Rigor and restrained luxury were the names of the game at Louis Vuitton, as the French megabrand delivered Thursday a fall-winter 2010-2011 menswear collection of razor-cut suits in charcoal cashmere and buttery leather.
Menswear designer Paul Helbers said he'd looked to turn-of-the-century Vienna for this collection of layered looks with equestrian touches.
"I was inspired by Vienna and the whole atmosphere of the city in the 1920s and also the Vienna of today, the strictness of it, the kind of traditional-meets-technical aspect of it," Helbers told The Associated Press in a backstage interview.
Microfiber paneling around the midriff lent a cutting-edge feel to proper cashmere jackets. Double-breasted tweed coats were paired with slim nylon trousers that tucked into high clogs or knee-high riding boots_ which the collection notes described as an ode to the Austrian capital's celebrated Spanish riding school.
In a nod to Vuitton's trunk-making heritage, most of the models carried oversized totes, duffle bags and backpacks. Three of the bags were hand-painted by German artist Christian Schoeler with swirling dreamscapes in dusty purples, blues and pinks.
Besides a jacket in lemon yellow, the bags were among the sole pops of color in a collection dominated by black, charcoal and dark brown.
Asked whether he saw the collection — which followed last season's bike messenger-inspired looks in bright hues — Vuitton's artistic director Marc Jacobs pleaded ignorance.
"I wear a white shirt and plaid skirt every day, so I'm not the best person to speak about menswear," a beaming Jacobs told The AP.