Louis Vuitton Menswear Fall Winter 2013 Paris
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Louis Vuitton Menswear Fall Winter 2013 Paris

The thunder clap that kicked off the Louis Vuitton show made the audience jump as if it had been hit by lighting.  While that electrifying moment left a cracking energy in the air Kim Jones, the brand’s menswear designer, sent down the catwalk a show that looked to the Himalayas and the garb of thrill seeking mountain climbers who year after year trek up the perilously slops of Mount Everest.

But lest we forget that Louis Vuitton is a luxury brand, the first look on the runway was a full length mink and cashmere fur coat that had been needle punched to give the snow leopard pattern a strokeable fuzzy façade.  In fact, there was a lot of luxe on display in this show where everything from sheepskin, shearling and supple leathers to beaver, fox and astrakhan showed up on the mostly muted toned daywear and substantial outerwear. As for the oversized weekend bags with the “emergency pull” handles, the carabiner buckle belts and the goggle-like sunglasses, they all screamed “wait-listed”.

As much as this show honored the French craftsmanship of the house and its heritage as a travel brand, it was also a celebration of British artisans. The London born Jones enlisted the help of milliner Stephen Jones to create the collection’s dapper yet slouchy knit hats. He also followed in the footsteps of Marc Jacobs, the artistic director of Louis Vuitton, by collaborating with modern artists on memorable prints that would define the show in the annals of fashion history. Jones’s choice: the controversial Chapman brothers, Jake and Dinos.

They produced both a caricature snow leopard print that found its way onto ties and woven into a brown knit sweater and one that gave a slightly sinister slant to a classically French floral baroque motif.  Called “garden in hell” the print perverted the traditional jacquard eveningwear in such a way that it made the ensembles instantly iconic. Its inclusion was the perfect counterpoint to Jones’s fairly minimalistic mountain men daywear and showed the designer at the peek of his own fashion journey.

- Jessica Michault