Kim Jones shock decision to quit as men’s artistic director of Louis Vuitton meant his final show at the Grand Palais in Paris was always going to be crammed with the great, the good and the starry. That it was easier to get a reaction from Kate Moss – the world’s most famous, yet most silent supermodel – than from Jones himself, was testament to the significance of his departure.
Moss, who walked into the show with Naomi Campbell, was in good spirits: “It was amazing – of course!” she said of her catwalk appearance, “but it always is,” before adding cheerily, “emotional, yes, but it’s on to the next chapter.”
Precisely which chapter she was referring to was ambiguous – perhaps deliberately so. Jones has been earmarked to take over at Burberry or Versace. Though neither fashion house, when asked, were willing to comment.
Among the rumoured names taking over at Louis Vuitton are Off White’s Virgil Abloh, who showed on Wednesday and sat in the front row on Thursday.
Jones’s final show at Louis Vuitton was in a round, multi-tiered platform within the inner courtyard of the Grand Palais. The mood inside was sombre but reflective. Deploying two huge names to walk in his show was deemed a good distraction for Jones, who was reportedly “choked up” backstage.
David Beckham perched on the front row with his wife, Victoria, and son, Brooklyn, was another distraction. Speaking backstage, the former footballer paid tribute to Jones: “He always does a fantastic collection – and it’s emotional that it’s his last. He’s a good friend and I love his work.”
“But I’m also hot,” he laughed, referring to the backstage scrum.
Also in attendance were footballer Neymar, director Xavier Dolan and British fashion’s new guard – Grace Wales Bonner, Craig Green and Charles Jeffrey. The show underlined the label’s aesthetic of travel, exploration and luggage, nodding to the brand’s heritage as well as the end of Jones’s seven-year tenure.
It epitomised his ability to marry classic with modernity, featuring tailoring in greys and aubergine, khaki blousons alongside fluoro orange cashmere jumpers and printed parkas in organza and silk. Bags were fun twists on the monogrammed classics with a lacquered finish or oversized hiking bags. Sneakers walked the pseudo-rubble catwalk alongside bright hiking boots, while a fishing lanyard with a whistle and keyring will probably be the most affordable gateway piece. The show closed with the supers Moss and Campbell, in glazed monogrammed raincoats, bringing out Jones to huge applause.
As of last year, LVMH, Louis Vuitton’s parent company, was one of the most powerful fashion groups in the world, valued at £22.7bn in 2017, with much of its revenue down to the leather goods division, which grew by 15% in the first quarter of last year, as well as Jones’s success within the menswear department.
His departure comes at a curious time with streetwear joining the ranks of high-end fashion, a shift which Jones is widely credited with helping to make. According to a study by consulting firm Bain & Company, the success of luxury streetwear has helped boost global sales of personal goods by 5% to an estimated £232bn.