From the hyper-luxury of Louis Vuitton to the warped, pre-distressed, shredded clothes of Rick Owens.

“Easy peasy.” Those were Kim Jones’ words, talking about his spring/summer 2016 Louis Vuitton menswear collection, heaving with embroideries that looked anything but.

He was referencing a recolouring of Vuitton’s trademark Monogram: speaking of trademarks, in May the brand lost a battle to do just that to the checkerboard canvas it calls Damier. It was, hitherto, the primary pattern of Jones’ menswear collections; coincidentally, this season Jones traded it for the signature LV. Maybe that was motivated by business rather than pleasure, but its entwined initials, influenced by Japanese pictograms, neatly underscored Jones’ designs.

This collection read as a mishmash of global references, which was exactly the point. “I’ve visited fifteen countries this year,” Jones stated. “I wanted it to be everything that I’ve seen, rather than one specific place.” Nile Rodgers provided the soundtrack, smashing his greatest hits together, in themselves a fusion of global styles which, Jones said, was a metaphor for the collection, where South East Asia surrendered animalistic embroideries like G.I. souvenir jackets, while sportswear boldly striped in red, white and blue evoked mid-century Los Angeles.

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A look from Louis Vuitton spring/summer 2016

Luggage was in excess, but not excessive, clever stuff like super-soft canvas numbers that rolled up pac-a-mac style into a nylon sleeve, or in leather bonded to organza that had a papery crispness. Jones did a few coats and jackets in that - they neatly reversed, taped seams forming a graphic webwork. It also looked a bit like the coats an air traffic controller could wear to chivvy a plane into place. His prints - of cranes, monkeys and panthers - were splashed across silk pyjamas, like high class First Class flight sleeper suits. Some models even clutched blankets, like sleepy travellers waylaid.

It all struck you as clever, covetable, instantly recognisable - that Damier trademark was refused by courts on the basis that the design was a “basic and banal feature composed of very simple elements.” You couldn’t say the same about Jones’ stuff.

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A look from the Rick Owens spring/summer 2016 show

Paris is a city of contrasts when it comes to fashion. How to counter the silk embroideries and hand-dyed Kobe leathers of Vuitton’s hyper-luxury, its planes, cranes and haute habbiler? How about a model dressed in a grubby upside-down sweatshirt clutching a raggedy home-made banner inciting assassination of German Chancellor Angel Merkel? The latter was actually suffixed, in true American adolescent style, with “Not”. You could be forgiven for thinking it was business as usual at Rick Owens, a designer loves a bit of juvenile delinquency. Last season he flashed his models’ penises through peep-holes, through clothes that looked much the same as these - long-line tunics, heavy romper-stomper leather boots, topsy-turvy garments with sleeves dangling about the knees.

That banner was no cunning stunt - Owens, visibly shaken, said he knew nothing about it after the show. “It’s a crazy rogue fucking model that I punched when he came back out, “ the designer told Womenswear Daily, adding “Please say that I punched him.”

 

The house also requested media outlets to to omit or blur images of the banner. The trouble was, just like Rick’s dicks last season, it had already gone viral. You can’t have it both ways.

It’s interesting to wonder if, as the talks deadlock around the potential default of Greece and/or its exit from the Eurozone, the Owens model - whose names is Jera, no surname as of yet -  was making some kind of anti-capitalist statement (although scribbling a disclaimer at the bottom seemed to negate whatever message he was trying to express)? Owens’ clothes - warped, pre-distressed, shredded and generally as anti-luxury as you can get - frequently seem to be making a similar anti-capitalist stance, despite the fact that his company turns over close to £100m annually. Admittedly, that’s dwarfed by the billions of fashion behemoths like Vuitton, who dominate the calendar, advertising budgets and hence most press coverage, but it’s still a business. Which is the point of this whole thing. Maybe that’s why Owens was quite so indignant.

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