Louis Vuitton SS-12: Born to be Wild. A journey, both literal and metaphorical, was at the heart of Louis Vuitton’s spring summer 2012 collection for men. Marking the debut of UK-born designer Kim Jones as the men’s Style and Studio Director at the French fashion house, the collection was refreshingly chic, seductively rugged and certainly warranted the adoration it received.
“At its simplest level, it is about the idea of travel and what it means at this point in time. After all, travel forms the foundation of the brand,” explains new designer Kim Jones.
Under the direction of Marc Jacobs, who is in charge of the entire creative direction at Louis Vuitton, Jones has produced a men’s collection, which has been very well received, garnered rave reviews by the fashion crowd as well as the fashion media. “I take a lot of inspiration on what Marc has done with Vuitton, and how he worked with different things, with different people within the company. We have an organic way of working, it is not structured, we have meetings and we talk about ideas, we look at everything as we go along. It is an easy process and he is really a nice guy,” admits Jones sincerely.
“Travel is a fundamental part of the lineage and language of Louis Vuitton and is a central component of what it stands for today,” continues Jones. “At the same time, the collection is looking at the idea of a personal journey. It forms the notion of a coming-of-age through exploration and travel.”
With these ‘growing-up’ and travel inspirations, Louis Vuitton’s men’s spring-summer 2012 collection was presented in three parts: Ivy League style; African safari adventure; and the jet-set nightlife. For the collection, Jones pointed out the inspirational figure of Peter Beard as the icon for the themes. Peter Beard was an American aristocrat whose heyday was in the 1970s, when he went to live in Africa and became an artist—a renowned photographer of East Africa and its wild life.
“He is someone brave, when you think about it, to move his whole life to Africa at that time, in that era,” says Jones, who himself did a part of his growing up in Africa, “I like that pioneering spirit.” Combining practicality and luxury, the collection captures the mood of the modern traveler.
For the Ivy League segment, there was the reimagining of a preppy athleticism and a reworking of traditional notions of sportswear, such as rowing vests with the appliquéd handkerchief of the traditional V logo, the iconic Harrington jacket, the club ties, the luxurious knits—a cashmere spin on the traditional gray marl and vicuna-badge sweaters—or the relaxed sports jackets and suits in super lightweight wool. There was also an emphasis on new sporting technological garments and fabrics in luxurious natural fibers, while still maintaining their practical performance and durability—a staple of Louis Vuitton’s contemporary take on menswear.
For the “Africa” segment, there was an exploration of the House’s Damier check, which became a recurrent motif throughout the rest of the collection. Here, the Damier was marvelously transformed like the traditional blue and red checks of the Masai. The Masai motifs, decorated blankets and scarves in cashmere and cotton as well as in cashmere-blend sweaters and shorts have been reworked in super-fine merino wool. This segment also features the strapping safari looks; from the classic safari jackets and shorts, to the khaki palette.
With the jet-set-nightlife-in-the-big-city look, Jones presented a clever play on the traditional dinner suit. Tailoring for the suits, for day or night, was more relaxed. The tailored short suit was a key silhouette, which was offered throughout the collection. Luxurious fabrics were employed to produce the various blazers and jackets; from self-lining silk and wool to leather. The Damier check was also used again, reinvented with a watercolor feel for shirting. Louis Vuitton’s classic monogram was also featured as an inky, midnight silk-screened scarf. Evening scarves dominated throughout. A 24-karat gold thread tie offers a swanky finishing touch.
For the bags and accessories, inspirations from Louis Vuitton’s rich and illustrious archives came to the fore. VVN leather, the traditional trim for Monogram luggage, provides a particularly striking accent that runs throughout. There are also the distinctive flat-pac sandals and on many of the new “mix and match” belts.
Wooden decoration elements—another feature from the wider legacy of Louis Vuitton—also make an appearance. A selection of new, distinctive men’s bags has been introduced for SS-12, such as the Champs-Élysées quilted rucksack and weekend bags. A new Nomade leather bag, softer and offered in new colors, also made its debut.
This season, some of the clothes and accessories also featured one of the most traditional and personal of all; the logos in the classic ”V”. It originally came from the steamer trunk of Gaston-Louis Vuitton, one of the Maison’s very own iconic world travelers.