GEOGRAPHY OF STYLE. Exotic flower motifs, extreme sportswear and island-hopping adventures come together in Louis Vuitton’s spring/summer 2018 collection. Peter Zewet reports
Backstage at Louis Vuitton‘s spring/summer 2018 runway show
Last December, Louis Vuitton held a press presentation of their spring/summer 2018 collection in Tokyo, Japan. This time around, Louis Vuitton’s artistic director for menswear, Kim Jones, went on a tropical journey, island hopping in style with a smart collection that was eclectic and highly covetable. And, most importantly, still in line with the maison’s DNA that is heavily influenced by travel.
Of the inspiration for the collection, Jones said: “Someone gave me the book ‘Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Not Visited and Never Will’. And I realized I’d been to about all of them!”
“I thought of specific islands—New Zealand, Easter Island, and especially Hawaii—but I was also inspired by the idea of an island, and of travel,” Jones went on about the Eureka moment that drove the collection’s theme. “Of moving easily from place to place, and experiencing these different pockets of civilization, these different identities simultaneously.”
The result of this luxurious pursuit of island hopping is a play of hybrids and juxtapositions, built around combining different elements from different places. Hawaii is a major source of inspiration. The signature Aloha shirts of the island state—sometimes better known simply as Hawaiian shirts—get a new treatment as the prints of exotic foliage are reinterpreted in style. Appearing in a number of color combinations and material variations, and sometimes overlaid with matching print organza, these Hawaiian shirts are definitely the highlight of the season from Louis Vuitton.
Range of Louis Vuitton bags displayed at the press presentation in Tokyo
Another strong element in the collection is sport, particularly those readily seen in Hawaii and other tropical islands. Activities such as windsurfing, climbing, trekking, hiking and scuba diving influence the silhouettes. Tops and pants reminiscent of outfits for scuba diving are incorporated into the collection as daily wear. The sports inspiration also sees new graphic logo treatments where the name Louis Vuitton becomes a team slogan, a decal printed across sweaters, T-shirts, tank tops and even on some of the Hawaiian shirts.
The sportswear influence is also apparent in the materials used in the collection. Fabrics that are lightweight, modern and fluid are favored for their practicality and functionality. Showcasing Louis Vuitton’s forte in fabrication, technical silks, tonic mohairs and seersucker along with paper-thin “scuba” lambskin leather bonded with neoprene are among the materials used for casual to evening. The color palette of the collection is dominated by various shades of ocean blues with dashes of earth tones as well as flashes of sport-inspired neon.
“These Hawaiian shirts are definitely the highlight of the season from Louis Vuitton”
The play of juxtapositions in the collection highlights two different masculine identities: sporty and dressy. A fitted sportswear silhouette is contrasted with a relaxed tailoring. While the outfits are fusions of different elements, each look is individual, much like an island.
The key theme of fusion is echoed in the accessories. Of a particular note is a new take of the house’s iconic monogram dubbed the monogram split, which features contrasting colored monograms, emphasized with a center seam. The style is offered in classic Keepalls, re-engineered with a lateral seam, or in the tote with an over-sized style split vertically. The latter includes a handle taken after those traditionally used on the maison’s trunks.
The Louis Vuitton Hawaiian shirt as seen on the runway
The Louis Vuitton monogram is also introduced in new colors such as Pacific, an Oceania-inspired cobalt blue, and Reflect, which has a hi-visibility reflective finish inspired by high-impact sport. The sportswear theme is then explored further with a dedicated sports-inspired line, the monogram outdoor, which mixes canvas with sports webbing, scuba zips, cording and hardware based on the colored metal of carabineer clips, creating new styles infused with the energy and dynamism of outdoor pursuits. Taking inspiration from the Louis Vuitton archives, the Noe bag is also refreshed, blown up to become over-sized backpacks.
Charting the needs of the contemporary voyager, Jones made sure that, “every man can walk into a Vuitton store and find something for his lifestyle.”