During lunchtime in Paris on Monday, Nicolas Ghesquière unveiled his latest collection for Louis Vuitton, which featured a predominant theme of urban survival with sophistication. The fashion line aimed to show how fashion can thrive in a city environment.
The show was held at the Musée d’Orsay, a former train station converted into a French art museum. The models, dressed in black, walked briskly through the western Beaux Arts salons, which resembled a patched cobblestone Parisian street. The stage set for the show, designed by Philippe Parreno and James Chinlund, featured rotating black mechanical speakers and sound baffles. The strange soundtrack, with police sirens and a discordant orchestra, was based on Nicolas Becker’s sound illusions. After the show, many Vuitton customers posed for photos under the tech structures, dressed in LV’s latest designs, trying to emulate the influencers who receive free clothes.
The collection itself marked a major change on Nicolas’ part. Starting with his dark palette that contrasts strongly with the gold and silver worn by dozens of influencers, who had a great time taking pictures of themselves before the show and posting on Instagram. They had plenty of time. Even after a loud voice from the sound system begged ladies and gentlemen to take their seats as the show was about to begin, it was another 10 minutes before a model appeared.
Then there was a sea change in the general mood. Gone are the active, techy sportswear experiments of so many of Ghesquière’s shows for Vuitton.Many natural fibers and fabrics have arrived, even if Nicolas has cut the clothes to suggest momentum and dynamism.
He wowed with a trio of excellent décolleté dresses in bouclé wool, cinched at the waist and padded to sit slightly off the bust. He’s wrapped giant pleated collars around his neck; he placed the plackets of tuxedo shirts outside the waistcoats and stiffened a cocktail pinstripe so that it hung in a perfect square around the knees. In short, this was a master class in groundbreaking tailoring.
And dynamic tailoring too: from idol matinee suits with wide-leg trousers and double-breasted jackets to memorable mod suits in matelassé leather in battleship grey.
Along with the clothes came a great range of handbags: from an entire Haussmann mansion mini bag to a quilted bag that looked gorgeous in everything from burnished leather to red, white, and blue. Because of this, it felt just like a celebration of France, in a show whose program note began by asking, “What is French style?”
Before answering: “an ineffable magnetism that still intrigues the world; this too is paradoxical: refinement with an amateurish air. French allure is a trompe l’oeil. The French touch never seems to charm.”
The event also marked the debut in women’s fashion of the newly appointed CEO Pietro Beccari, who arrived at LV from Dior.At the entrance, the $64,000 question on everyone’s lips was whether one of Beccari’s first decisions would be to replace Ghesquière? The designer has been there for nine and a half years, a long reign by any measure.
Well, the collection turned out to be Ghesquière’s best for Vuitton for a good half of the decade. So, I think, we can put the P-45 forms aside for another season.