The rich spend more time partying than the rest of us. Actually, maybe they don’t. But they do spend more time partying in seriously expensive eveningwear than the rest of us. That’s why designer collections are often skewed more towards ‘after-dark’ looks than than the average high street offer.
It’s also why it’s so refreshing to see a collection that seems to recognise a label’s customers do ‘regular’ stuff too, such as hanging around in relaxed daywear.
The Louis Vuitton pre-summer 17 (Resort) show in Brazil on Saturday did just that.
But don’t run away with the idea that this was one of those “real clothes for real women” moments. The venue, Rio’s Oscar Niemeyer-designed Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, was suitably forward-looking for a collection that, like any show signed by Nicolas Ghesquière had its impenetrable moments.
Yet this being Louis Vuitton, a label that basically wants to shift large numbers of checked or monogram logo’d bags to well-heeled tourists, it was essentially more about product than concept, even if that product might take a while for real-worlders to get their heads around.
And that product was undeniably influenced by the athleisure trend that’s swept the fashion sector, as well as a quite big sporting event that Brazil is hosting this year (who knew?)
It reinforced the importance of Latin America following Chanel’s recent show in Cuba, although this week Latin America’s exuberance will take a back seat as Dior and Gucci show their pre-summer offerings at the very stately and very sedate Blenheim Palace and Westminster Abbey, respectively.
But back with Vuitton. Sports references crop up every time there’s an Olympics, but combine it with a moment when sport-influenced fashion is riding high and Brazil is having a moment (even if that moment is marred by health fears and corruption scandals) and the references are laid on thick.
So this was body-conscious and leg-conscious. There was plenty of colour blocking, go-faster stripes and chequered flag prints, plus scuba jersey, scuba zips, swimsuit cuts, Pelé prints (courtesy of Aldermar Martins), moto leathers, windcheater-meets-parka jackets, fitted and ruched nylon-look parachute dresses and tops with functional drawstrings, elongated sport shorts and track pants with slashed sides.
But brushing aside the obvious sporty headlines, there was a lot more to like too. It wasn’t one of the OMG moments like we’ve all been getting when the latest Gucci collections are unveiled these days. But there was lots to wear and plenty that should influence the wider fashion sector outside of the sports theme.
The cool-weather leathers and functional skinny jumpsuits, the horizontal frill on tops and skirts, and the trailing hem loose floral tunic dresses will be copied. Layering (either loose or fitted) was a detail that could also have an influence. The sequin skinny scarves that were part accessory, part jewellery likewise. Boxy shearling gilets and side-panel kick-flare suede pants nodded to the something-for-every-climate nature of modern high-end collections. Meanwhile strapless suede almost-fit-and-flare mini dresses with cut-out bra detail will most likely be a young Hollywood favourite (as well as being adapted by the high street for young Essex, young Sicily, young St Petersburg and so on).
Sequins, those scarves aside, were key and also came as loose silver tops or soft skirts that looked like sequinned beach towels wrapped around the body.
There was something for the more formally-minded too with a neat little coat and a winter white skirt suit but in scuba fabric and teamed with a multi-pocket nylon-look top, they were less about sedate lunches or boardroom results statements than edgy fashion statements.
And no, I haven’t forgotten the shoes and accessories (this is Louis Vuitton after all). Flat, chunky sandals with a focus on the upper and ankle-wrapping further moved the collection away from the formal. And pointed ‘sock’ ankle boots and shoe boots played up the sporty theme (but still added the try-running-in-these-and-you’ll-fall-over element so beloved of luxury footwear brands).
Bagwise, the label mixed the usual Vuitton design touches with a sports feel on roomier bags while the mini hard-case bag stayed big news. There was even a boombox bag that actually acted as a real boombox, the popular Pliage with a long fringe, and some really quite conservative flap closure bags with short chain handles that wouldn’t look out of place with a smart suit (from another label though – no smart suits from Vuitton this pre-season).
And lets not forget the collection’s belt – a plain or printed long belt knotted at the waist with one end left trailing. It’s a design already being seen on the high street and one that’s likely to be seen even more now.