This year marks the 40th anniversary of punk. Tributes and rip-offs will be rife, but few have such a mandate to celebrate and pay homage to the aesthetics of punk like Kim Jones. The designer is a renowned collector of vintage fashion and his archive is filled with early work by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren from Let It Rock, Sex and Seditionaries. He keeps these gems safe - preserving them for a new generation to see and learn from. He’s the owner of Johnny Rotten’s famous mohair sweater - he keeps it in the fridge to stop it from rotting. That sweater informed the jumpers that appeared on his S/S 17 runway, worn with bondage trousers, collars and brothel creepers. Those same jumpers were knitted in a way that imitated animal markings. Africa (where Jones grew up) and punk, united. This show was about bringing together Jones' obsessions and loves. It’s an apt time for such a personal offering - this season marks his five year anniversary with the brand. He’s done his job exceptionally - so it’s fitting and warming that, on this occasion, he presented what may have been his strongest show to date.
Jones’ secret skill has always been merging. His very role at Louis Vuitton involves a considerable mash-up of his own sporty aesthetic and the house’s luxury heritage. The combination works well. For S/S 17 he clashed and united his two themes, drawing parallels between the tartan of the seventies Kings Road and the checks of the Maasai people (recalling his early work for the house). A new collaboration - Jones’ second - with art world provocateurs Jake and Dinos Chapman helped hammer home the Africa theme. Animals - zebras, rhinos, elephants and giraffes - littered leather goods and clothing prints. These pieces will excel commercially.
Punk spirit came through in the details and show pieces - the transparent monogrammed rubber coat, the straps, the zips. Jones enjoys bringing the worlds and interests he is so versed in into the lexicon of the Vuitton shopper. So while one may laugh at the idea of a monied luxury consumer embracing bondage trousers, with Jones these items feel authentic. Maybe that’s because, whatever the given inspiration or regardless of the most recent research trip, the real story in all of his collections is Vuitton itself - the archive, the heritage, the French spirit. Punk was about fetish, and Vuitton is a much fetishised brand - people adore and obsess over the logos, the products, the new releases. Jones understands this - he wrapped the logo tight around models necks, or covered their bodies in archive emblems. He understands his house and he understands modernity in luxury. He subverts, but he sells. Five years is a long time in fashion these days - we've got used to a system of two to three year contracts where designers are in and then out after just a few collections. Vuitton would be wise to do what they can to hang on to Jones.