Those who have attended the shows across London, Milan and Paris this season will be exhausted with the number of shows that reference ‘a global vision’, ‘a merging of cultures’ or ‘East meets West’ as their inspiration. Such platitudes highlight how keen, desperate even, houses are to seem relevant to or supportive of territories that are becoming thriving consumer zones, not just Asia but the likes of Brazil and Africa as well. The result? Collections that still show a highly Western view of the cultures and codes of other lands. But few understand travel like Kim Jones of Louis Vuitton. Part of his design process there involves extensive research trips to new realms, be that Rajasthan for S/S 15 or Machu Picchu for A/W 14. Many have talked of a world view, Jones actually has one. That’s why his ambitious collection, titled World Clique and focused on exploring the items and styles that unite menswear across the globe worked. This is his forte, bringing big ideas into ordinary, wearable clothes. Except his clothes are never really ordinary, they may feel nonchalant and relevant, but look closely and they’re actually reversible and constructed from super light organza-backed lambskin or rendered out of the most intricately embroidered silk. At points Jones’ collections feel like they’ve been built off the back of a world-wide scavenger hunt for a good, interesting idea - that pearl of inspiration. So you could read into the necklaces, pearls that have been treated with indigo while actually growing in the shell. The mind boggles.
What other references had he picked up on his jaunts? Well he’d brought oriental emblems from Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar, and drawn connections between the macho volumes of American sportswear with the traditional dress silhouettes of those South East Asian territories. The staples of every man’s wardrobe - the bomber jackets, sporty blousons and silky party shirts - were there too. There was a lot of cultural DNA in here but a lot of Louis Vuitton's signatures as well. Anything that could have been branded was, from the scarfs that wrapped around models’ necks to the front of tops and the back of jackets. Branding is interesting when talking of global fashion and the emblems that run across the outfits of men all over the world - perhaps more than anything it’s logos that have a total, cross-cultural resonance. They’re inclusion felt modern, witty even.
But despite all the looking around, collecting and observing that Jones had clearly done, there was a sense of looking inward as well, a sense of reflection. Maybe that’s what made this collection so strong - one of his best in years - it felt very Kim. From the decision to recruit Nile Rodgers to provide the soundtrack in person, to the obsessive mash-up of sportswear, this was a collection based on true passions and true knowledge. World, get ready.