By  on June 15, 2007

PARIS — Levi's Europe hopes to catapult its image into a whole new stratosphere with its Levi's Red collection, its most premium denim line to date.

"Since the brand's debut, Levi's has always been about jeans designed for pioneers," said You Nguyen, senior vice president of Levi's product for Levi Strauss Europe. "Red is for the pioneers of tomorrow."

In a loft off a leafy courtyard in the Marais, Nguyen on Thursday presented an installation of denim styles as well as a fashion show in order to explain each construction.

"We are driving denim innovation into the core of our line," he said.

Launched in 1999 as a one-shot collection, the new uberconceptual Levi's Red fall line is a resurrection of sorts. "For the new line, we have once again challenged the proportions of the traditional Levi's five-pocket jeans," explained Nguyen. "We deconstructed a traditional style and reinterpreted every aspect of the construction, driving it into different volumes, shapes and proportions in every single way."

Exaggerated proportions are visible even in minor details such as oversized Red tab labels, elongated pockets and elaborate stitching.

For inspiration, the denim company dove into its archives to uncover some of its most cherished cartoon characters used in advertisements from the Forties and Fifties. Interpretations of iconic characters from yesteryear such as a lanky cowboy called Sidewalker, the bowlegged Saddleman and the circular Lasso Man were morphed into seven denim styles for men and women.

The circular Bella jean for women, for example, creates an exaggerated stacking and draping effect at the leg when worn. Meanwhile, oversized T-shirts, barn-like denim jackets with circular arms and miniskirts round out the collection.

While the constructions might seem tricky, according to Nguyen, they are "far more comfortable" than certain more conventional fits. "[The shapes] help to create more movement in the arms and shoulders," he explained.

Taking innovation a step further, Levi's tapped a Japanese denim guru who, after seven months of testing and adjustments, created the ultimate fabric made from Japanese rigid red selvage denim. Prices for the jeans start at 280 euros, or $372.While the premium denim category might be at a crossroads for budding denim lines, Nguyen said he's confident that Levi's historical reputation, as well as Levi's Red's edgy construction and engineering, will be a success with design-savvy denim devotees in search of the next look in blue jeans. Meanwhile, to ensure exclusive appeal, Levi's hopes to sell its collection in specialty shops across Europe such as Dover Street Market in London, Berlin's The Corner and L'Eclaireur in Paris, as well as select Levi's flagships.

Looking ahead, Nguyen said Red's spring collection would continue to challenge proportions and shapes as well as "a new way of looking at finishes."

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