PARIS — What do you get if you mix up the world's most famous checks and Paris' most famous stripes?
The answer: Louis Vuitton, whose 1960s style spring-summer fashion show, in typically spectacular style, twinned the iconic checked Damier pattern with a set designed by artist Daniel Buren.
Understatement is not a word in designer Marc Jacobs' vocabulary. So a collaboration with minimalist artist Buren — who made the famed striped columns in Paris' Palais Royal — might have raised eyebrows.
But Buren rose boldly to the occasion — creating a shopping mall with four full-scale escalators, each decorated with his signature 8.7cm stripes.
It wowed spectators inside the Louvre museum.
"It's exquisite, beautiful," said 29-year-old Christina Malaki.
"(The Louvre) was already big, all I did was make it bigger," said Buren, with trademark humor. "It was others that called me a minimalist, not me."
The sky's the limit when you're backed by Europe's richest man and LVMH-owner Bernard Arnault, with whom he mingled before the show.
In fashion terms it was strong, with most of the 64 retro looks delivered in Mary Quant-style checks that made a bold optical statement in black and white, as well as browns, gray and leaf green.
Slightly puffed rounded shoulders, miniskirts, beehives and a few exposed midriffs pointed to one thing: The swinging sixties are back.
The silhouettes — often flat and loose— prioritized the Damier above the female form — which rippled nicely in skirts as the models, who walked in pairs, filed by with handbags.
Louis Vuitton is a house that is proud of its tradition, but also likes to evolve. The collection saw the ubiquitous monogram banished for the first time.
Instead, one recurrent feature was, so say the program notes, "the smallest sequins ever produced."
Thousands of microscopic sequins brought a dazzling metallic shimmer to dresses as skirt suits, though when it was used on the blocked Damier pattern it was slightly too much.
"It's all about being graphic. (Buren's escalators) are a mathematical equation," Jacobs told journalists after the show.
Another math equation will come from the buoyant receipts from this, a highly saleable collection.
It's a fair bet that by next year, this bold check will be everywhere.
Thomas Adamson can be followed at http:/ /Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP