For the Louis Vuitton menswear show on Thursday afternoon in Paris, Kim Jones – the label’s artistic director who went into partnership with the streetwear brand Supreme last season – again included a collaboration. This one was with Drake. The R&B superstar produced a song, Signs, inspired by Jones’s collection for the brand, which debuted at the show. His song could also be heard on Instagram live as the show was streamed.
It took place outdoors in Domaine national du Palais-Royal, a 17th century courtyard. Guests including the rapper Tyga, Naomi Campbell and the new Vogue editor, Edward Enninful, braved temperatures of 34C (93F). Fans and bottles of Evian were the accessory of choice in the front row.
The collection was titled Archipelago. The themes concentrated around the outdoors and clothes that work for the elements – albeit also for a luxury brand where a phone case, like the one in Campbell’s hand, costs £745. The first look consisted of cycling shorts worn with a poplin shirt. Others followed wearing transparent organza shirts printed with exotic blooms and surf-style T-shirts with Louis Vuitton written in a neon rainbow font that will prove covetable come spring. There were backpacks and most models also wore what the show notes referred to as “technical clogs”, a hybrid between a Croc and a hiking sandal. They were paired with socks featuring the famous Louis Vuitton logo. Socks and sandals, once much-maligned, are becoming a fashion classic.
The in-the-elements theme tallies with a wider trend for so-called gorpcore, or outdoorsy clothing reimagined for fashion, also seen at Valentino and Balenciaga. Louis Vuitton arguably has more legitimacy than others – it started as a luggage brand after all. Jones, meanwhile, regularly takes trips to faraway destinations.
In the show notes, he said he was inspired by the ultimate armchair traveller book, Judith Schalansky’s Atlas of Remote Islands: 50 Islands I Have Not Visited and Never Will, detailing some of the more isolated places in the world through the writer’s imaginings. “I realised I’d been to about all of them,” said Jones. “I was also inspired by the idea of an island, and of travel.”
Jones knows not all Louis Vuitton’s clientele are prone to island hopping, of course. For them, he included trenches and loose summer suiting that looked cool even in a Parisian heatwave.
The partnership with Drake is a canny move. The musician’s last album, Views, topped the Billboard chart for 13 weeks and he has 37.7m followers on his Champagne Papi Instagram, almost double that of Louis Vuitton. He is also something of a fashion reference, wearing Sergio Tacchini, Calvin Klein and Stone Island and he has his own fashion line, OVO.
LVMH, Louis Vuitton’s parent company, remains one of the most powerful fashion groups in the world, valued at £22.7bn this year. Its fashion and leather goods division, of which Louis Vuitton is a part, grew by 15% in the first quarter of 2017.
Earlier in the day, it was the turn of Rick Owens. The designer is recently known for penises on the catwalk and models wearing other models. This season’s stunt was more elegant. Scaffolding was erected outside the Grand Palais forming a monumental catwalk. Owens has built a brand with revenues of £94.7m last year on a combination of architectural influence and subcultural edge.
The collection featured suiting, outerwear and jersey but with a goth slant. Footwear was chunky boots and hair came slicked back in a comic book style. In a gracious move appreciated by a fashion crowd frazzled by the heat, each seat came with a goody bag containing a bottle of water, a fan and a hat.
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