Forget billion-euro financial results, the more accurate marker of the power a label wields in the world of luxury fashion was on display backstage at the Louis Vuitton menswear show in Paris yesterday. There was the world’s most famous supermodel, Kate Moss, dressed head to toe in silky zebra pyjamas from the label’s latest collection, bossing the world’s most famous footballer, David Beckham, to take his turn in front of the cameras and pose for the brand’s Unicef initiative.
Asked whether he was there for the fashion or the football, Beckham emphatically declared: “I’m here for the fashion.” In a week where football and fashion have collided in Paris, the bandwidth for brands and sponsors to flex their muscles has been tight, but there can be no doubt that Louis Vuitton is the most powerful of them all.
Moss whipped around the backstage portable building in the grounds of the Palais-Royal, chatting with the Chapman brothers, who have again collaborated with the label’s artistic director, Kim Jones, on prints depicting animals on top of the Louis Vuitton monogram. Meanwhile, Rio Ferdinand tried to stay cool in the boiling heat as Beckham betrayed a supernatural ability to defy Celsius in a simple black jumper.
A veteran of post-match/catwalk analysis, Beckham told the Guardian that he had loved it. “Kim is a good friend of mine, and it’s great to see him working on his passion. He is so talented and that was such a strong collection.”
Beckham was not wrong. This collection was entitled “Blueprint”. It took inspiration from African safaris and punk, and was one of Jones’s best shows in his five-year tenure at Vuitton. Saharan-coloured zip blousons and zebra patterns worked unexpectedly well with mohair jumpers and leather studded dog collars. This show recalled Jones’s first for the brand, which was inspired by the designer’s childhood in Kenya and Botswana. He explained that the two seemingly disparate influences – Africa and punk – were inspired by South African photographer Frank Marshall’s Renegades portrait series of Botswana biker gangs wearing heavy leather.
As ever, it was the execution that set this collection apart from the way another brand might have tackled such a theme. There was a delicacy and intricacy to fabrics – silk shirts with giraffes on them fluttered, while paper-thin leather was woven like baskets into blouson coats. Zip-detail trousers and mohair jumpers had an easy elegance to them which betrayed the deft skill of the Louis Vuitton atelier.