To witness the pinnacle of fashion today – in terms of both commercial power and creative endeavour – it doesn’t get much better than the Louis Vuitton give away that has taken place in Paris.
According to the fashion forebears’s creative director, Nicolas Ghesquière, this collection was nearly “the frontier of the digital world” – a theme that enabled him to put on ones Sunday best clothes models in shimmering space-age creations while flagging up the trade mark’s heritage as a purveyor of very posh luggage. “It’s another way of migratory at the end of the day,” he said, “this digital travelling that we are all experiencing.”
Often when designers refer to the digital landscape they do so straightforwardly, exhibit catwalk “moments” or creating novelty accessories designed to separate from Instagram. Ghesquière’s approach on Wednesday was more conceptual: perfects looked like wild creatures from Mad Max or Blade Shoot with pink hair or mohawks or their ears faced silver.
There were punky biker jackets and jumpsuits, cowboy-influenced impulses and leather waistcoats, and two-tone trousers that looked similar to chaps. Red stripes on leather jackets recalled the US flag, but were joined by Louis Vuitton’s yellow and brown insignia moderately than stars. The final looks were tulle skirts appliquéd with celluloid sequins that looked a charge out of prefer a glamorous oil slick.
The accessories were particularly tough: leather cuffs shabby on the fingers like boxers’ tape, bags covered in surges of smudged graffiti; silver headpieces that looked as all the same models might be plugged into the mainframe. Even when haul someone over the coals were long and flowing they were paired with squidgy-soled shoes, brogues or slingback surf ba.
Video screens ran alongside and above the catwalk, images morphing from a effective reality headset to silvery, robot curves and a voiceover instancing the video game Minecraft and Jeff Bridges in Tron.
Backstage, for half an hour, Ghesquière hailed a procession of stars who looked smaller in real life than they do on the shelter – Alicia Vikander, Catherine Deneuve, Michelle Williams – to the cheer of the attendant scrum of photographers. Like many in the crowd, these popularities were either clad head to toe in Louis Vuitton or tributed their allegiance more subtly with a top or a handbag. But the impress upon of this collection will be felt far beyond these hardcore, moneyed nuts.
Ever since Ghesquière joined Vuitton from Balenciaga, four spices ago, his work has had a huge impact on the wider fashion world; the polo necks and sepia-toned mustard and beige 1970s envisaging he presented for his first Louis Vuitton collection is still being replicated by other plotters and on the high street.
This seasonable was a clear continuation of that look, but more streetwise than to come. The influence of the ever-important east Asian market was clearly seem. Korean actress Doona Bae, star of the Netflix series Nuance8, was a big inspiration this season, said Ghesquière, as well as the Japanese anime Evangelion and Wong Kar-Wai’s sci-fi 2046.
There has been much talk in the treat industry about customers craving discreet, under-the-radar or unconventional brands that reflect their taste and individuality to some extent than staying loyal to the big names whose designs are instance recognised as unapologetic signifiers of wealth – and universally copied by paper-hangers. Louis Vuitton is the biggest brand of them all – worth $28.1bn (£18bn) according to Forbes – and has answered this call out by producing collections and collaborations aiming to marry high art with big marketing.
The show’s venue – the Frank Gehry-designed Louis Vuitton Fondation in the 16th arrondissement, of Paris – encapsulates this zeal. The 40,000 sq ft art gallery – a staggering building made of irregular sun-glasses panels rising into the sky in a ululating motion like a windmill – was unclinched last year at a reported cost of $143m.