It takes guts and a more than a little chutzpah to move a luxury behemoth into pretty radically new territory but that's exactly what Kim Jones did in his latest men's spring 2013 collection for Louis Vuitton, which boldly took the giant luxury brand into uncharted territories.
Jones went on an extended aquatic voyage, involving yachting, ocean cruising, deep sea diving and surfing - creating clothes, and above all accessories, with a blend of high-tech materials and artisanal skill. Vuitton's DNA has always been travel based, but of the lushest sort. So seeing a giant Daumier prints backpack in fluorescent orange was something of a shock.
However, the very nerve of the collection impressed for that reason. From the puffer leather life vest to cashmere scuba suits that still managed to look like neoprene, this was Vuitton sailing into fresh seas.
"Travel is at the heart of the Vuitton experience, and what�s more about travel than the sea?" Jones said post show on Thursday, June 28.
"I can just imagine Yves Carcelle in this collection when he goes sailing," added Jones, referring to the veteran executive, who spearheaded the brand�s celebrated yachting race, The Louis Vuitton Cup, which celebrates its 30th anniversary next year.
And it was a clear vote of confidence in Jones' tenure that the house's creative director, Marc Jacobs, took his place front-row. Traditionally he used to take a bow alongside the menswear designer.
Jones also served up some nattily sleek suits, the sort our British cousins call a Demob, from the Demobilization after World War II, though smartly updated with faux medallions that underlined his savvy tailoring chops.
Not quite everything worked: hard to imagine too many sailors or land lubbers wearing the patchwork denim shorts. And quite why Vuitton chose to take a seaside collection out of its usual show-space - a beautiful glass house in west Paris - into a mock up, pitch-black industrial nightclub on the other side of town, was unfathomable.
However, Jones' gutsy collection and determination to make his own personal mark on the brand made for a fine show, and an impressively novel fashion statement.