Louis Vuitton: Protective architectural visions for a foreign land by Nicolas Ghesquière

One has got to hand it to Nicolas Ghesquière, the creative director of Louis Vuitton certainly has a rich imagination.


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Louis Vuitton - Spring-Summer2019 - Womenswear - Paris - © PixelFormula

Case in point, his latest mock-medieval futurist collection for Vuitton, which from its opening look – a curving high-tech blouson made in an imaginary sci-fi landscape print – to its remarkable set was stylistically startling throughout.
 
Staged in the Cour Carrée, the huge eastern courtyard of the Louvre, the set showed the magical hand, once again, of the world`s coolest set builder Es Devlin. The giant scenery looked like an enormous Space Station corridor done in a deeply angled parallelogram. Inside and outside, triangular black pools, partly the imitating the fountains that surround I. M. Pei's famed glass pyramid in the Louvre's central courtyard. Both the soundtrack and a series of huge arc lights gradually kicked in to signal the start of the show, the latter casting a remarkable glowing light on the cast. Which, by the way, was unquestionably the best of the season: featuring a score of young ladies never before seen this season. A gold medal for casting director Ashley Brokaw.
 
Marching rapidly in vests, American football tops, tanks, bloomers and cocktails all printed with beguiling images of an intergalactic city, in mid-construction, surveyed by huge robots and located in a giant desert. All completely artificial landscapes computer-designed by his design team.

 Though the key element this season was the clothes' architecture. From billowing sequined sleeves or medieval knight shoulders to leg-of-mutton accordion sleeves or faintly ruffled poet's shirts. Every second look curled and fluttered. Most of them covered with his techy imagery. Nicolas even had a drone photograph the potassium lakes around Salt Lake City and these images became little prints.


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Louis Vuitton - Spring-Summer2019 - Womenswear - Paris - © PixelFormula

 
There have been so many discussions in these past months about the place of women. So, the intuition of a designer is about creating clothes that allow women to "face situations that otherwise might make them wary, while also being yourself, and living in the moment,” explained Ghesquière post show. Stressing the dramatic medieval sleeves were  “not armor, but more a protective shell created by architecture of the clothes.”
 
Mingled into the event, a quintet of models – all girls but with boyish haircuts - in mannish clothes, several in new LV trench coats, blazers and cabans, made of technical bonded rubber that feels like leather, allowing the designer to crafts some powerful sculptural forms worthy of Brancusi.
 
“My idea was to be very ambiguous. Everyone always says having a woman dress like a man gives her power: but I think that a woman can also be very vulnerable when she wears a suit and I wanted to play with that ambiguity,” the 47-year-old designer added.
 
Ghesquière will also keep the cash register turning over with some clever accessories, from the footwear of the week, a buckled ankle boot cut like a winkle picker, to flying saucer-shaped exotic leather handbags.


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Louis Vuitton - Spring-Summer2019 - Womenswear - Paris - © PixelFormula

 
Post-show there a mob scene underneath the colonnaded passage between the Louvre's two courtyards, as stars like Cate Blanchett, Alicia Vikander, Thandie Newton, Luke Evans and Sophie Turner struggled in a crush of VIPS, editors, influencers, influence-peddlers, hangers-on, anguished publicists, executives and several score of heavies to simply say hello to Ghesquière. Quite why the world`s most famous luxury brand turns its backstage into a rugby scum, worthy of the five-meter line melee in a match between Brive and Béziers remains a mystery.
 
In a word, a thoroughly intriguing show, packed full of ideas, though like many of the technological images in the prints a rather cold collection. Ghesquière has certainly created a rich body of work at Vuitton, but it’s a chilly, somewhat narrow vision. And, unlike Ghesquière's rich period of creativity at his previous position at Balenciaga, where he really set the fashion agenda, his clothes for LV do not define our era.
 

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