Paris Fashion Week: Louis Vuitton makes it Werkstätte
Reporting from Paris -- Last season it was New York City bike messengers, a year ago it was African royalty, and this time around, Louis Vuitton men's studio director Paul Helbers and artistic director Marc Jacobs found their inspiration in Vienna -- specifically the Vienna of the early 20th century, and a community of architects, artists and designers known as the Wiener Werkstätte (which counted Franz Kafka and Egon Schiele among its members).
"They had a kind of artist's wardrobe," Helbers told me backstage after the show. "That could be dressed up or dressed down, it was very versatile." Helbers said it was not just the artists of the movement that inspired the collection, but the architecture and even the street signs of the time -- the latter of which was the source of a pale shade of neon green that cropped up in a few pieces including a puffer jacket.
When it came to accessories, only one of the traditional all-over LV monogram style bags could be spotted; in its place was a single, stark capital V" (which had also appeared on the luggage-tag-shaped show invitations.) I asked Helbers about whether that was a conscious decision in a time of more stealth luxury.
"There is a time and place for that," he said. "But for something like this it needs to be discreet."
Instead, the designers chose to telegraph the luxury factor in a more subtle way: Three of the bags were hand painted with landscapes, forests and clouds by German artist Christian Schoeler, swirling, soft, watercolor-like light purples, moss greens and rust shades against white backgrounds, which provided the perfect counterpoint to the collection's predominant color palette of blacks and browns.-- Adam Tschorn
Photos: At top, looks from Louis Vuitton's Fall/Winter 2010 men's runway collection, which was inspired by the the way the artists, architects and designers of the Wiener Werkstätte mixed business and leisure wear. At bottom left, one of the bags hand painted by Christian Schoeler, at right a bag with a simple "V" logo instead of the more traditional Louis Vuitton monogram. Photo credit: Jonas Gustavsson / For The Times. Below video of the Louis Vuitton runway show Thursday, by Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times