Modish reads and flashy coffee-table books may telegraph your currency and interest in visual culture, but nothing signals a cultivated mind like well-thumbed copies of Proust, Faulkner and their dead-white-men brethren.
As with books, so with clothing. A wardrobe without basics is like a bookshelf without classics. After all, no self-respecting gentleman wants to look fatally fashionable—an ill-advised form of posturing that a particularly acerbic friend of mine refers to as “high-earning hairdresser.”
But while menswear moves by evolution, not revolution—and its design vocabulary is more limited than womenswear, as every Tom, Dick and Ari knows—creating a wardrobe of perennial everyday pieces that are easy to mix and match and build on is not as easy as it sounds.
Enter Louis Vuitton. The luxury-goods purveyor has introduced Icons, a new seasonless capsule collection of classic buy-now/wear-now staples. The 40-plus pieces include signature guy bait from past seasons, such as the zipped Harrington blouson ($3,200), the ageless Mackintosh trench ($2,810) and the Perfecto leather jacket ($5,600), which brings to mind Fonzie or Joey Ramone (take your pick).
“We wanted to have a clearly identifiable wardrobe to act as the foundation for Louis Vuitton’s ready-to-wear offerings,” says men’s studio and style director Kim Jones. “The aim was to position the pieces as a man’s essentials, with an emphasis on timelessness, elegance and functionality.”
In addition to the recognizable stalwarts, Icons includes new building blocks such as a light-wool travel suit and a packable nylon trench, as well as jackets, formal and polo shirts, knits, versatile denims and flat-front pants that are fashionably tapered but don’t make your legs look like pipe cleaners.
Recognizing that few things add a glide to a man’s stride like stepping out in something new, Vuitton will continually augment the neutral debut collection with colors and materials shown on its runways. Of course, the pieces are also meant to be integrated with other, showier clothes in one’s wardrobe.
For extra-stylish erudition, Icons’ lightweight Porte-Documents Voyage briefcase is being offered in a new, soft-grained Taurillon leather with an array of colors ($4,300). All the better for carting around those musty old books that tell the world that the cut of your quip measures up to the cut of your jib.
Mixed leather blouson ($4,350) and classic oxford shirt ($575), part of Louis Vuitton’s 40-plus-piece Icons collection, and Louis Vuitton feather tie ($420); louisvuitton.com.