AS THE CRE­ATIVE VI­SION BE­HIND LOUIS VUIT­TON’S MENSWEAR COL­LEC­TIONS, KIM JONES IS PROV­ING HIM­SELF ONE OF THE FASHION WORLD’S MOST EX­CIT­ING TAL­ENTS.

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DDe­sign­ers of­ten like to talk about travel. Across the globe or back through time, it’s one of fashion’s great in­spi­ra­tions. But for Kim Jones, the artis­tic di­rec­tor of men’s ready-to-wear at Louis Vuit­ton, travel is not sim­ply a source of cre­ativ­ity, but a part of who he is. Jones joined Louis Vuit­ton in 2011, af­ter three years as cre­ative di­rec­tor of Al­fred Dun­hill. With his unas­sum­ing de­meanour and charm­ing Bri­tish ac­cent, he may not seem like the most ob­vi­ous choice to head up a revered French mai­son like Louis Vuit­ton, but truth is Jones couldn’t be a more nat­u­ral fit. Jones spent his for­ma­tive years liv­ing in Africa, his teens in Lon­don, and now re­sides and works in Paris. As any of his 120,000 In­sta­gram fol­low­ers know, Jones’ feed is a jet-lag in­duc­ing slideshow of bucket list des­ti­na­tions around the world. Paris, Tokyo, Athens, Cape Town, the Kala­hari Desert, back to Paris, back to Tokyo, Marrakesh, and on and on. He’s al­ways on the move. Louis Vuit­ton, on the other hand, was founded as a lug­gage com­pany in 1854. It went on to be­come a sym­bol of the well-heeled jet­set­ter, with style icons El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor and the Duke of Wind­sor each amass­ing leg­endary col­lec­tions of the brand’s iconic mono­gram trunks. Vuit­ton and Jones were made for each other. “Travel is a huge in­spi­ra­tion,” says Jones of his cre­ative process. “It is part of my life and is the core of the Louis Vuit­ton DNA. Be­sides the dis­cov­ery of tech­niques, fab­rics, crafts that is cru­cial in my work, trav­el­ling is a mas­sive part of the mod­ern life. Air­ports are filled with men who are fly­ing from one con­ti­nent to an­other and have needs for which I am try­ing to an­swer to in my de­signs.” Nowhere was that more ob­vi­ous than in his most re­cent col­lec­tion. Held in June at the Palais Royal in Paris, Jones’ SS17 show was eas­ily one of the most an­tic­i­pated events on the fashion cal­en­dar – and not sim­ply be­cause the front row was graced with the likes of Kate Moss and David Beck­ham. Mod­els took to the cat­walk bear­ing ref­er­ences from Jones’ own life – ex­otic skins and an­i­mal prints (Africa), bondage­buckle pants (’80s Lon­don), and a mod­ern, hand-held spin on the la­bel’s classic trunks. The show was her­alded as Jones’ finest. “It is al­ways nice when peo­ple and the in­dus­try ap­pre­ci­ate your work but it has never been my main ob­jec­tive,” he says. “I just want my de­signs to em­brace the no­madic life­style men are fac­ing nowa­days with con­stant trav­el­ling and hec­tic sched­ules. What­ever the sit­u­a­tion or the con­text is, they have to look on point. “It is prob­a­bly one of the most per­sonal I’ve de­signed for Louis Vuit­ton,” adds Jones,

of the 42 looks that walked the run­way. “It’s a mix of the fab­u­lous mem­o­ries I have from Africa when I was a child, my af­fec­tion of the wild and the an­i­mals and my true love for Lon­don, my home­town, and the punk scene that in­flu­enced me so much while I was a teenager.” Louis Vuit­ton still makes lug­gage, of course, but now pro­duces ev­ery­thing from ap­parel for both men and women, to hand­bags, ac­ces­sories, jew­ellery and time­pieces. But it is menswear that has en­joyed the great­est re­vival of late. Once con­sid­ered more of a side-busi­ness, menswear is boom­ing – global sales out­pac­ing wom­enswear in re­cent years, and pre­dicted to ex­ceed $53bn by 2019. At Louis Vuit­ton, where Jones has now been for five years, 2016 rev­enue is es­ti­mated to reach $13bn. In other words, the Bri­tish de­signer is at the helm of one of the biggest sec­tors in one of the biggest fashion houses on the planet. Still, he doesn’t let that – or the fact his de­signs are reg­u­larly worn by everyone from Zayn Ma­lik and Kanye West, to the good Mr Beck­ham – cloud his vi­sion. “Of course, I de­sign for men who are liv­ing in the real world,” he says. “It is not

about cre­at­ing a fan­tasy. The Louis Vuit­ton cus­tomer has high ex­pec­ta­tions in re­gards to style, but most of all con­cern­ing qual­ity, com­fort and func­tion­al­ity. The clothes, leather­goods, shoes and ac­ces­sories we de­sign need to be beau­ti­ful but also very prac­ti­cal to fit mod­ern life­styles.” In a time when fashion is big busi­ness and de­sign­ers are un­der more pres­sure than ever be­fore, Jones has shown he has both the cre­ative vi­sion and com­mer­cial savvy to steer the 152-year-old into the future. Which­ever di­rec­tion he chooses to take, it’s clear Louis Vuit­ton is in safe hands. And we can’t wait to see where he heads next.

WORDS JAKE MIL­LAR PHO­TOG­RA­PHY DAVID HUGHES STYLING JO-ANN FURNISS

Merino wool scarf by Louis Vuit­ton SS12.

This page: Mink slip­pers by Chap­man Broth­ers x Louis Vuit­ton AW13. Op­po­site: Silk dressing gown, cot­ton voile and piqué shirt, and silk bow tie, all by Chap­man Broth­ers x Louis Vuit­ton AW13.

This page: Re­versible scarf by Louis Vuit­ton SS16. Op­po­site: Sat­a­para pressed flan­nel coat by Louis Vuit­ton AW16. GQ.COM.AU 157

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