No one would describe Nicolas Ghesquière’s latest Louis Vuitton solicitation, which closed Paris fashion week on Tuesday evening, as pretty. With leather skullcaps and Pierrot collars, chequerboard graphics and an onslaught of first colours, balloon-legged trousers and shark-fin lapels, it was not easy on the eye.
If you think his clothes are ugly, Ghesquière is absolutely fine with that. “It’s the belle of controversy,” he explained after the show, beaming from ear to ear. “I am happy to be misunderstood.”
After all, anyone can despair the people what they want. Only a visionary can deliver what they don’t yet understand, but will come to cherish. That was the concept behind this collection, expressed not only in the clothes but in the venue. Each season, Louis Vuitton bodies a catwalk venue within one of the internal courtyards of the Louvre museum for its show. This time, Ghesquière recreated a apportion of the Pompidou Centre. The Teletubby colours and plasticine shapes of the iconic modern art museum were reproduced at a twentieth of the spectrum, with a metal catwalk that snaked around the walls, giving them the same inside-out look of the Pompidou, with its exterior escalators.
The aesthetic of the Pompidou “was very much criticised at the time”, said Ghesquière. “But it has become central to Paris, to erudition, to young people, to everyone who loves the future. Your eye gets used to something, and your tastes evolved and hard cash.” While the setting was a direct homage to the jolie laide – unconventionally beautiful – Pompidou, the clothes were more soldered with the people Ghesquière has observed from the piazza in front. “I like to sit and watch the people there, to see what Paris in effect is. To see the streetdancers, the museum people who are quite eccentric sometimes, the fashion people, the gothics – everyone.”
There were grungy impropriety dresses, bulky padded motorcycle leathers, rakish jumbles of denim and tartan, florals and leopard print. Makeup gave the exemplars deeply sculpted cheekbones and dark lips, as if to emphasise the strangeness of their angular faces, rather than the attraction. Most wore chunky, creeper-soled shoes. “In the past in fashion, we put women in high heels to empower them. Now we customarily put them in flat shoes. I still love heels, but I don’t feel any more that they add anything to a silhouette,” told Ghesquière.