In our increasingly politicized, think-piece driven fashion culture, for a brand to claim Africa as a reference point in their collection is for them to take something of a risk. You might remember that Valentino’s SS16 show last year was rightly criticised for it reductive and “whitewashed” use of “African influences”. As befits a designer of Kim Jones’ calibre, though, there should be no such complaints regarding Louis Vuitton’s SS17 menswear show. Taking a seductively figurative approach, Jones tapped into the idea of Africa as the birthplace of modern civilisation, as a kind of original home: a concept which has clear parallels with Jones’ own childhood spent in Kenya and Botswana.
Return To Me
In this personal and symbolic “return” for Jones – to the exotic skins and prints which are emblematic of Africa and which were cut into a vast array of luxurious outerwear here – there emerged what is perhaps Louis Vuitton’s most elemental preoccupation: travel. That meant plenty of luggage (no surprises there) in all manner of rich and opulent textiles. After all, these kind of leather goods have long been at LV’s heart, both commercially and in terms of the maison’s not inconsiderable cultural significance and heritage, but it was those more subtle suggestions of travel which proved truly seductive.
That could mean the safari jacket detailing on a classic trenchcoat for example, or the camp collar and epaulettes added to a khaki shirt. Or, indeed, a modern take on the full safari suit itself, which came slim, belted and ever so elegant. The semi-translucent, all-over monogram trenches, meanwhile, have already gone viral on Insatgram, and there was certainly something charming about their delicious play on contrasts: the unabashed luxury of the LV monogram printed onto a piece that, though sharply cut and beautifully tailored, was nonetheless made from a fabric that resembled semi-disposable rain wear – think what Patrick Bateman dons over his suits pre-murder in American Psycho. “Enjoy this trip / And it is a trip,” the thudding sound track declared. And, with the luscious glut of colours, textures, prints and ideas floating around here, it was certainly a trip worth taking.