The latest Louis Vuitton collection makes no sense. But not in a surreal way like at Jonathan Anderson’s Loewe, where the absurd was both hilarious and intriguing, and conveyed through jaw-dropping craftsmanship. In general, Nicolas Ghesquière‘s recent runway offerings look peculiar and overworked, but his autumn-winter 2022 collection wins with its randomness and chaos. Of course, there’s a reason behind that madness. Time has been a subtext for Ghesquière since the beginning of his tenure at Louis Vuitton. He’s made a practice of mashing up references and collapsing centuries in the process, most famously when he combined Louis XVI frock coats with running shorts and sneakers on a sub-floor of the Louvre that was once a medieval moat. This show wasn’t hooked to a particular era as much as it was to a time frame: young adulthood. In prepared notes, Ghesquière called the collection “an excursion into a perceptible, fleeting, and decisive moment when everything comes to the fore, in all its innocence and insight. The impermanence and beautiful volatility of adolescence.” He conjured that state of being most straightforwardly with a trove of photographs by David Sims. The photographer came of age in the 1990s – like Ghesquière himself – and shook up the status quo the generation before him established by shooting his peers and other young people with a vérité grit that eventually became the look of that period. By applying and embroidering Sims’ images onto floral jacquard polos, some of that edgy spirit seeped in here. Channeling the sense of youthful experimentation he remembers, Ghesquière topped evening dresses with sporty rugby shirts or chunky sweaters wrapped around waists. He also played with androgynous tailoring, often in oversized shapes, styled with tacky-looking men’s ties. Other silhouettes looked delineated from Ghesquière’s more extravagant collection for spring, only here the pannier and bustle shapes were remixed in softer embroidered knit and tweed, which made them look more everyday. The location – Musée D’Orsay’s main hall – had nothing to do with the collection’s forced spontainety. “Freedom is all,” the designer, “without directive or impediment.” But why should that freedom look so haphazard? I miss the times when Ghesquière’s work was more streamlined and focused – both at Balenciaga, and in his first seasons for Louis Vuitton.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.