It’s a courageous act to take something quite passé and attempt to imbue it with a new cool. At Louis Vuitton today, the show notes suggested a virtual reality traveller, a man who skips from one continent to the next, all with the click of a mouse. But the clothes harked back to those mid 90s backpackers who toured South-East Asia (a la Leo in The Beach), picking up local customs, dress habits and tribal tattoos along the way. That multi-ethnic mix came through in a leather blazer with etched-in Chinese dragons, and pants held up by Thai rolled-fabric belts. The tattoos were signs from the Chinese zodiac (including the formerly ubiquitous dragon), painted on by the man behind Marc Jacobs’ personal body art, Scott Campbell.
The bags were a real-life traveller’s dream – khaki and charcoal canvas hold-alls that looked like they could survive the most hands-on adventure, and the sheer voile monogrammed shirt looked a winner. No doubt the individual pieces will be a resounding success. But whether those Chinese dragons will enjoy a Western resurgence remains to be seen.
Another designer interested in the clash of two worlds was Dries Van Noten, who staged his show in a graffiti-stained stretch beneath the Paris docks this evening. His conflicting ideals were high and low – luxury and grunge. A double breasted blazer came paired with cargo shorts and combat boots – ideal attire for a caviar gauche revolt – and acid-washed denim was styled with smartly tailored jackets. Half the clothes looked as if they’d been found in a 70s yard sale – like Brady Bunch brown flared pants and window-pane checked jackets; or patched together from several different garments, like a denim shirt with hairy woolen arms.
Civil unrest was brewing beneath the surface – you could imagine those secondhand woolen trenches and fancy suit pants being popular among skinheads or the late 80s anti-wall protesters in Berlin. The overall effect was strangely captivating – like a rich man setting fire to his Rolls Royce. Strip it back to its individual elements though, and there are two wardrobes – one to please the traditional Dries Van Noten customer, and another to attract a new generation. If it works, the two should merge seamlessly.
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