Structural OpulenceExploring the Levi’s Made & Crafted AW 2019 Collection
An indigo jacket contrasts with blocks of darker denim, resembling the cubic patterns of the surrounding structures. Wide-leg rancher trousers fan out to reveal their exaggerated proportions, evoking the expansive plains of the American West.
Angular forms vie for attention. Béton brut surfaces illuminate or lie steeped in shadow. Vast concrete blocks project into space, mapping their opaque outlines against an empty sky.
Stark silhouettes in softer materials also move through this Brutalist setting on London’s Southbank, among the architecture of the National Theatre and Hayward Gallery. An oversized black denim jacket hangs over outstretched arms, its long suede fringes drooping, casting a shadow like that of a raven in flight. An indigo jacket contrasts with blocks of darker denim, resembling the cubic patterns of the surrounding structures. Wide-leg rancher trousers fan out to reveal their exaggerated proportions, evoking the expansive plains of the American West.
The Levi’s Made & Crafted Autumn/Winter 2019 collection is rooted firmly in the brand’s heritage, yet with a certain sense of grandeur inherent in the designs. Following a subtle precedent set by the Spring/Summer 2018 collection, which saw global design directors Nicolle Arbour and Nick Rendic travel across the North Pacific to Japan for inspiration, this collection also presents a meeting of east and west, pairing Levi’s American roots with the opulence of Russian clothing and architecture – from its contemporary street style to the palaces and cathedrals of the tsars, to the bold forms of Soviet-era Brutalism.
The collection is named Russian Rodeo, after a collision of styles which appeared at the first rodeo event in Russia, held in the southwest Bryansk region in 2014. Cattle herders – dressed in 90s tracksuits and Kappa parkas, combined with cowboy boots and hats – tested their skills before an audience of judges and 400 enthusiasts. The contrasts in their apparel inspired Arbour and Rendic’s designs for Autumn/Winter 2019: in an oversized cut that nods to Russian streetwear, a hooded denim trucker jacket is lined with sherpa fleece, and on another, black denim meets sherpa to create a subtle exterior patchwork. Elsewhere, a round up trucker brings Russian street style colour blocking to the context of the American West, with its collar, breast pockets and cuffs in bold blocks of white, black and red.
The spirit of Russian architecture also weaves through the collection. In Moscow’s palatial underground Metro stations, marble columns support vaulted roofs, ornamented with painted rotundas and gleaming chandeliers. Levi’s translated these opulent details into lavish soutache embroidery and draping tendrils of bonded jersey fringe, heightening the collection’s American Western aesthetic with a celebratory sense of Russian extravagance.