It might be hard to believe, but roses actually thrive in arid and hot climates. After all, a desert rose is a low-maintenance succulent that produces dozens of trumpet shaped flowers in shades of pink, rose or white in the summer. Hence, it is here in the challenging conditions of the desert, and a race no less, an analogy to the “desert” or void left by the passing of a creative titan who was Virgil Abloh, that Louis Vuitton ‒ whose emblem so happens to be a flower motif ‒ blossoms.
Though it had been 100 years since our last pandemic and having been lulled into a false sense of biological security, Covid-19 awakened us to the reality that “adaptation” is the mantra of the modern age. In the face of changing conditions, we weather storms by leaning on one another and collectively adapting to new circumstances.
In Ablohʼs metaphorical wake, the House has indeed evolved to fit its new circumstances. It is poetic that the metaphor of the desert race also serves as an allegory. Though Abloh is no longer present, his design language lives on, seen on the sole of shoes, the iconic colourways of bags and his signature cuts of jackets, but his most visible influence on the French Maisonʼs studio Prêt-à-Porter Homme ‒ a race continues even if one of the drivers is no longer able to participate, his spiritual successors assume his mantle.
One of the most challenging competitions on the planet, the motorsport attracts an eccentric multicultural cast of daredevils ‒ another mirror for creative designers who risk everything in the act of creation, these souls brave the unpredictable terrain of the barren wasteland (or the mercurial tastes of a market used to catching the next big trend) and its many mirages before reaching the luxuriance of the oasis.
Seen through the lenses of adroit adaptation, desert racing serves as a microscope for the diverse characters, community spirit and collective creation that drive the Men’s Collection Pre-Collection 2023 along two paths: the Desert and the Mirage
With everything from multicoloured outerwear to contemporary suiting, the desert race motif unfolds in a complete wardrobe of urban and recreational dress codes. Amidst the tailoring, technical pieces created in lightweight, waterproof ripstop nylon set an energetic but elegant tone for the collection: zip-adorned trousers and tops transform into shorts, and short-sleeved shirts with hoods that can be hidden or exposed according to occasion.
The Maisonʼs signatures are rendered reminiscent to desert techniques. From monograms executed in sand effect and embossed on a suede shirt, to sand-strewn LV logos emblazoned across silk and poplin shirts. Most interestingly, the House takes the idea of “patina” and applies it to denim where the monogram appears discoloured as if from prolonged exposure the scorching desert sun.
Tailored jackets, bombers, hoodies and knitwear are printed with a trompe lʼoeil crumbled paper motif evoking an aerial view of sand dunes. Whether it be moto jackets or seamless tailoring, they all contribute to a cadence of a Louis Vuitton man that still bear Ablohʼs undeniable influence when you consider the adaptation of outerwear in form and fabrication.
The saharienne takes centre stage styled over cocktail pyjamas with a grid logo print that evokes check; a bomber jacket morphs with a varsity jacket and manifests in beige leather with logos right down to a logo embellished jacket sponsored by none other than Louis Vuitton ‒ it’s all handsome and self-referential in the right way.
A new version of the Sk8te encrusted with crystal and trimmed with distressed denim, and in a creeper-cut interpretation of the moulure-adorned Le Baroque completes the Burning Man-worthy ensemble. The Shark clog, the XL trainer and the Tatic sneaker all appear in new colourways.
Bags feature a new Spotlight motif in which the Louis Vuitton flower monogram is seen through a kaleidoscopic broken-down colour spectrum rendered across sporty shapes, including a new Meteor travel bag, a new Comet backpack and a new Comet messenger as well as small leather goods and logo-buckle belts. Finally, the lightweight LV 4Motion sunglasses with adjustable technical elements appear with mirrored blue lenses.
Layers upon layers, Louis Vuitton indulges meaningful storytelling adding both depth and character to a casual yet no less luxurious wardrobe simplified for everyday journeys. The Mirage chapter of the men’s Pre-Collection 2023 takes us to an oasis with motifs inspired by terrestrial and aquatic flora into a casual wardrobe simplified for recreational travel.
An evergreen coach jacket constructed for lightweight comfort or a souvenir jacket in logo-adorned leather is perforated for breathability ‒ in the advent you wish to fly in the manner of stylishly cosy while not stuff y. For extreme functionality yet no less modish, the House presents a reversible white bomber jacket in leather and nylon which can be adapted according to weather and occasion.
Here, crêpe silk-blend shorts and shirts, knitwear, a jacquard bomber and a generational suit in discharged denim are endowed with a new pointillisme monogram imitating the Impressionist painting technique, which gives the illusion of underwater movement. Similar motifs abound in a sequinned oversized tank top adorned with an algae-inspired logo, in a shirt and a cargo shirt in indigo denim featuring a debossed monogram that’s evocative of water erosion, and in shirts adorned with wet-look transparent print details.
Styled over a matching poplin shirt and swim shorts, a satin jacket is flocked with three-dimensional underwater motifs and logos and embellished with liquid-effect sequins. Shoes interpret life by the sea ‒ the Oberkampf combat boot resurfaces with a black embossed monogram in nubuck; the Shark clog appears in navy; the XL sneaker features in blue or orange with new lace charms; and a derby in glazed leather adapts the properties of a sneaker with technical squishy lining, a padded tongue and a rubber sole.
(Images: Louis Vuitton)