Paris Fashion Week: 'Witness' meets 'Wild at Heart' at Louis Vuitton
At first glance, the show notes for the Louis Vuitton Fall and Winter 2011 menswear collection seemed like a "Brüno"-level fashion prank: an exploration of Amish style with a hint of David Lynch strangeness.
But men's studio director Paul Helbers used the simplified, stripped-down design elements associated with the Amish as a way of paring the luxury brand back to basics, and the Lynchian sense of foreboding and uneasiness to inject a sense of tension into a collection that was nearly all black.
The focus here was on cut and construction, with square-shouldered, peak lapel, double-breasted jackets, belted knit cardigans, puffer vests, and a feather-filled jacket that sculpted the torso like armor.
Several of the jackets included "travel tails" - garments that could be worn either as a second layering piece or attached to the back waistband and sides of the outer layer (i.e. a "tail") to create the effect of a longer coat. The double-jacket combinations on the catwalk included a wool jersey and washed corduroy dress jacket with a cotton jersey sweater, and a tailored nylon jacket with a dangling puffer vest.
Although black was the predominant color in the collection, it was punctuated by flashes of a vivid red-orange shade similar to the bright shades that have been popping up on runways in Milan and Paris for the last week and a half.
"It's the color of the neon motel signs that pop up at the end of David Lynch films," Helbers said. "There's this aurora that happens as the neon gas starts to fill the tube and it's somewhere between red and orange."
The menswear Fall and Winter 2011 runway presentation also marked the introduction of a new iteration of the Louis Vuitton Damier check called Damier Infini, which appeared on several of the bags in the show.
Instead of printed on canvas, this version is embossed onto soft leather, which has the effect of making the less-noticeable cousin of the iconic LV monogram logo nearly invisible to the untrained eye.
Which might just make the new Damier Infini check the stealth luxury branding equivalent of the batwing B2 bomber.
-- Adam Tschorn, reporting from Paris
Photos: At top, looks from the Louis Vuitton Fall and Winter 2011 menswear runway collection, shown on Thursday, during Paris Fashion Week. At bottom, a down puffer vest "travel tail," which can be removed and worn as a layering piece. Credit: Jonas Gustavsson & Peter Stigter.