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Armani Conquers China, Chastises the Pope June 01st, 2012 @ 11:53 AM



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Louis Vuitton’s Post Colonial Dandy Chic

Godfrey Deeny
June 23rd, 2011 @ 3:39 PM - Paris

An important debut in Continental menswear this season was the first show designed for Louis Vuitton by U.K.-born Kim Jones, staged Thursday, June 23, in Paris.

And, like its location, the airy, modernist glasshouse of Parc Andre Citroen, the collection opened up a more vivacious, spirited sensibility, shifting Vuitton’s former sportswear driven style into a more outdoors indie gentlemanly take on modern fashion.

Where the previous design director Paul Helbers once referenced New York bike messengers, Jones riffed on brainy colonial explorers, featuring Masai plaid detailing, crocodile Happy Valley sandals, and Born Free khaki shorts and shirts, which was not so surprising seeing as Jones spent part of his youth in Africa.

The artful staging starred a smart jumble of hut-sized Vuitton trunks and a striking new single V logo, which turned out to be a savvy lift from the house’s famed archives. The original V was from the steamer used by family member Gaston-Louis Vuitton, a famed world traveler.

Jones, whose design origins are in clubbing sportswear, hit his stride early on in the show with some excellent bomber jackets, most notably a brown crocodile version with contrasting navy canvas sleeves. The debutant also whipped up some great new Nomade totes, and a series of quilted nylon weekend bags that were fresh and practical. Plus his modern takes on Vuitton classics; in particular the Masai Red version of the famed Damier canvas, seemed like sure fired best sellers.

Some of the tailoring was a tad too traditional, and the odd styling trick did not quite come off – pairing thick brown socks with technical, river run sandals looked rather odd.

But Jones did hit a home run with his finale, especially his evening looks, from a cocktail hour silk pajama suit to a dashing shawl collar tuxedo – all with a charming hint of plantation decadence.

“The collection is looking at the idea of a personal journey. It forms the notion of a coming-of-age through exploration and travel,” said Jones, who took a joint bow with Vuitton’s design director Marc Jacobs - a heavily applauded moment which clearly indicated he had a successful Paris entrance.

Above all, there was a sense throughout that Jones was in synch with Vuitton’s famed atelier, packing his runway with ideas and carefully shifting the brand’s men’s wear to a more nonchalant haute gamme artist chic.

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