Thinking back on this past Paris menswear season, I realize that it held few surprises. This is not a criticism. Lately, I have been thinking that as fashion increasingly becomes driven by celebrity and hype, the only thing left to do is to support those who produce genuinely creative work. This season they unanimously delivered strong collections, work that was strong in expression and full of conviction that they must stick to their guns as the world around them grows increasingly coarse and cynical.
Speaking of which, let’s get the gross spectacle that Louis Vuitton put on to celebrate Pharrell’s coronation as the new creative director of its menswear. To be fair, there were actually few cool looks in there – I, for one, was not mad at the Minecraft print. But most of it was exactly what Louis Vuitton wants, logo-driven drivel, the kind of lowest common denominator stuff squarely aimed at the masses consumed by conspicuous consumption.
The clothes, however, were not the most off-putting part; the cabaret show with which they were presented was. It was a pure power exercise; power over Paris, power over the fashion industry, power over its media, power over contemporary culture. For half a day a private company closed Pont Neuf, a major Parisian public bridge in the city center, so it could put on a celebrity-fashion industrial complex circus, bringing attendees to the show by boats, and essentially keeping them hostage for four hours. Perhaps in Louis Vuitton’s opinion everyone craves to be at a private Jay-Z concert, and considering the number of the blurry I-WAS-THERE! pictures of the rapper – taken in the hope that celebrity pixie dust will rub off – they weren’t entirely wrong. But they weren’t entirely right either. In the next few days I spoke with more than one editor who was quietly angry that Louis Vuitton simply assumed that they had no better place to be. What the brand signaled, I told them, is that they own them, and so the editors are expected to kiss the ring.