Any traveller in a new environment sooner or later gets that feeling of isolation that can be described as a mental awareness of the culture into which he has entered. This isolation can escalate to the point where the mind starts to perceive the environment as something threatening or it can have the contrary effect; the individual assimilates himself to the new environment.

But the moment of assimilation is the hardest one to bridge because we have to get rid of all our stability and move out of our comfort zone and make space for something new, unknown and interesting.

So how does the process of assimilation look like in the language of fashion? A nice example of this is Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection for A/W12. Designer Kim Jones has imagined the Vuitton man as a traveller trapped between Tokyo and Paris, between the past and the future. Jones says that it is all about a worldly man that has made the 70’s Le Palace in Paris his second home and is a huge admirer of the late fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez. And how has this been projected in the collection? Simple: a touch of Le Palace can be noticed in the choices of fabrics – rich and luxorious materials (silk, cashmire and velvet), but the inspiration from Antonio’s illustrations is reflected in scarves and winter coats. Cultural diversity is manifested through the use of shiny fabrics which are bright as Tokyo neon lights during the night.

The whole collection is a synonynm for the highest luxury that a man can project  through his style. Vuitton has shown us that elegance is easly established through mixture of right fabrics, colours and cuts – which no doubt goes for collection that will be the talk of all major fashion critics. The feeling after seeing it? Oh, just simply this: a desire to pack our suitcases and head towards the East; to start the day with a croissant and a café creme and end it with a glass of sake.

Tina Tanko writes movingly about Kim Jones’ second outing for Louis Vuitton. The fabrics alone took you on quite a journey: a camel coat with kangaroo fur collar, a trench with crocodile patches, a coat cut from a Vuitton travel blanket, shoes made from astrakhan, and, most of all, exquisite silks that have been woven outside Tokyo in a place recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Apparently the weaving process is so steeped in tradition that they can’t produce more than 7-8 inches a day. Despite this, it had been used for shirts and linings.

It was that kind of exquisite attention to detail in the collection that made your eyes pop. Antonio’s feather and arrow motifs were reproduced by couture ateliers (the feathers hand-painted in the company’s Gaston colour scheme), locks on bags were covered in tiny leather sheaths modeled on the signs of the Chinese zodiac. In these times such exorbitant luxury almost has you reeling…

Words by Tina Tanko

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Antonio Lopez, Kim Jones, louis vuitton, Tina Tanko,