Louis Vuitton has deep connections to London, this year marking the 130th anniversary of its first outpost there. So does Kim Jones, who chose to pay tribute to late British artist and fashion pioneer Christopher Nemeth, whose handmade clothes planted the seeds of deconstruction in the early Eighties – and sparked a cult following that thrives today, especially in Tokyo’s Harajuku district, where a Nemeth store stands as a shrine to his creative legacy.
“Being able to see his archive was a dream,” Jones said during a preview, gingerly removing the poly bag protecting items from his personal collection, including some made from vintage postman sacks.
Jones did a wonderful job exalting Nemeth’s hand-drawn rope motif, incorporating square versions into Vuitton’s Damier canvas, and employing a raft of painstaking craft techniques to splash it on clothes. Circular textile motifs in cork and paper were grafted on sweatshirts and canvas jeans-style jackets, while large-scale versions crawled over the terrific array of duffle and pea coats in camel tones that headlined the show.
While bold, the motif generally looked easy to wear: Distinctive on the coat Michael Stipe wore in the front row; young and spunky on Jones’ cast of boyish models. The only time it overwhelmed was when it was used in both coat and trouser combinations.
Now four years into his tenure as men’s creative director, and emboldened by strong sales, Jones has eased up on the obvious signposts of luxury. Indigo cashmere had been needle-punched into skinny jeans with motocross knees and big cuffs, but it was the cool shape that caught one’s eye.
Vuitton recently called on Jones to design some watches, with Nemeth weaves and monogram bands giving new verve to its Tambour shapes. Jones marveled how quickly the prototypes came back, thanks to in-house production. “That’s the power of Vuitton. You can do that in six weeks,” he said. “That blew my mind.”