Back To Office (Someday). Louis Vuitton Resort 2021

For many people still working from home, the word “office” sounds abstract. Tailoring isn’t a novelty in the resort 2021 collections, but only the Louis Vuitton line-up by Nicholas Ghesquière makes you think that some day, the “business” dress-code will come back to our lives and replace the lazy Zoom homewear. Emphasizing the more everyday, less editorial aspect of his ready-to-wear, the look-book was shot on location in Louis Vuitton’s Paris headquarters. A photocopier stands at attention in the opening shot, and exit signs and fire doors appear in the background of others. The promise of gorgeous hourglass blazers and chic silk blouses makes the longing for “back to life” life even more intense… but this wasn’t the only aspect of the collection (which, by the way, was good without any far-fetched venue location). “I looked somewhere that has been calling out to me for a long time, somewhere I hadn’t taken the time to go back to. It was like a reset to uncover one inspiration after another, to imagine the next steps and how to create and work within this new context. I took the time to explore my creative identity and prepare the future.” Confronted with the unknowns of the coronavirus and the crushing recession it precipitated, designers have been revisiting their past successes. Nicolas Ghesquière is among them, though the search for lost time is not only a quarantine pursuit for him. On his autumn-winter 2020 runway, with the then as-yet uncanceled Met Gala and its theme of “Fashion and Duration” still on the horizon, Ghesquière held up a mirror to his own work. For this resort collection, he followed similar guidelines – lifting cargo pants from one collection and frilly rococo collars from another, and reuniting with the blouson shapes of the 1980s he likes – with results that read more easier than his runway outings typically do. Additionally, running through the collection is a playing-card leitmotif. When asked, Ghesquière claimed “the tarot” as his favorite card game, “because it can be used in many different ways. And the cards are full of symbols.” Nonetheless, he made effective use of the clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades of the playing-card deck. They bear more than a passing resemblance to the elements of the Louis Vuitton monogram, which Ghesquière made the most of by hybridizing them and then either adding them as decorative details on bags, or supersizing them as color-blocked patterns on streamlined mini and maxi dresses.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Fondation Louis Vuitton

I finally had the time to visit Fondation Louis Vuitton during my recent stay in Paris. Surrounded by the greenery of Bois de Boulogne, this place really does stun with its view. At the beginning of March, no particular art exhibition was taking place here – just the sole experience of Frank Gehry’s architecture. Bathed in natural daylight from the skylight, the exhibition “An Architectural Journey” was like a walk inside of a living organism. Prepared in collaboration with Frank Gehry’s teams in Los Angeles, the exhibition proposed an open itinerary for visitors. Like the building itself, which offers multiple possible paths, you could easily get lost in all the wings and sails of the construction – but somehow, this was a kind of pleasure to explore it without a plan. The visual experience offered a vision of the building’s striking beauty, as well as its technological complexity. Definitely worth a visit, even though getting there takes a while.

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All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

(P.S. If you are inspired by my Parisian coverage, I’m really happy about, but please have in mind that now isn’t a safe time for any sorts of travelling. Stay at home!)

Past, Present, Future. Louis Vuitton AW20

This season, Louis Vuitton‘s Nicolas Ghesquière enlisted the costume designer Milena Canonero, a frequent collaborator of Stanley Kubrick’s, to create a monumental backdrop of 200 choral singers, each one clothed in historical garb dating from the 15th century to 1950. It was a mammoth undertaking, and a truly beautiful one. “I wanted a group of characters that represent different countries, different cultures, different times,” Ghesquière explained beforehand. “I love this interaction between the people seated in the audience, the girls walking, and the past looking at them—these three visions mixed together.” The time-collapsing sensation was heightened by the fact that the chorus performed was a composition by Woodkid and Bryce Dessner based on the work of Nicolas de Grigny, a contemporary of Bach’s. All of today’s fashion is a synthesis of the past, but Ghesquière makes a closer study of it than most. He’s compelled by the anachronous. A few seasons ago he clashed 18th-century frock coats and the high-tech trainers, creating a look as full of contrasts as the times we live in. For autumn-winter 2020, he offers even more time clashes: jewel-encrusted boleros (I can already see Rosalia performing in one of those) meet parachute pants, buoyant petticoats are paired with fitted tops whose designs looked cribbed from robotics, bourgeois tailoring is layered over sports jerseys. My favourite look of the collection – a sheer tulle dress with latex finishings worn over a leather motocross body – carried the quintessence of Ghesquière’s concept. The collection comes perfectly in time with the upcoming Met Gala (which is scheduled for the beginning of May and isn’t surrendering to coronavirus – for now) and its theme. Nicolas is the cohost of the gala, and Louis Vuitton is sponsoring the Costume Institute exhibition, “About Time: Fashion and Duration”. Just as in the exhibition’s idea, the collection says it out loud: fashion is a mirror of the present moment, built from the past. And it has future, as well.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Belle Époque Today. Louis Vuitton SS20

And here is the last collection of Paris Fashion Week: Louis Vuitton. It’s been a season of joyful nostalgia and bold dressing, and Nicolas Ghesquière ticked both boxes with his line-up. For spring-summer 2020 Ghesquière took us to Belle Époque–era Paris after his last season‘s venture to the 1980s. “It’s a part of French history that’s very interesting in art, as well as culturally, in terms of emancipation of women, and, of course, in literature with Proust,” he explained. It’s also a period that more or less coincided with the birth and rise of the house of Louis Vuitton. In the late 1800s, advances in construction and technology ushered in a new era of travel for the elite, to whom Monsieur Vuitton sold his  monogram trunks. There were many Belle Époque references in this collection: the pouf sleeves of shirts; the iris boutonnières, each one different; the Gibson Girl hairdos, and all the Art Nouveau touches, from the psychedelic swirls of a green jacquard coat to the painterly flowers on dresses to a little leather jacket hand-painted with angelic faces. In a way I miss the times when Nicolas did future-wear: we’ve got Gucci, Paco Rabanne and a bunch of other labels that dig in the past for references. Still, the huge screen that featured super-futurist Scottish musician SOPHIE performing an extended version of “It’s Okay to Cry”  while the models walked the runway somehow matched with the clothes’ historical background. And this sort of time-spanning eclecticism is very Ghesquière.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Positivity. Louis Vuitton SS20

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It’s Virgil Abloh‘s third season at men’s Louis Vuitton, and probably his best. For the spring-summer 2020 show, the brand held it in the real-life, cobbled streets and cafes of the Place Dauphine. The audience sat under trees on Louis Vuitton park benches or sipped a glass of champagne at outdoor tables. The view? A collection of easy, big shapes, flowing pants, real flowers stuck into harnesses and some really good outerwear. People like Dev Hynes of Blood Orange were part of the show’s casting, which made it even more intriguing. Of course, there were some similiarities to Craig Green’s garments in these wearable, geometric constructions that closed the show, but the collection’s main focus was on couture-level craftsmanship. Flower embroideries climbed up tulle coats, and a couple of immensely luxe iterations of hoodies, made from minutely pleated chiffon. “I’m learning, and taking much more of a couture approach”, he told the press after the show. It was a collection oozing with pure positivity, from the delicious pastel colour palette to the flower power elements.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Time Travel. Louis Vuitton Resort 2020

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Nicolas Ghesqière seems to be not over his love for the past decades. Louis Vuitton‘s resort 2020, which was presented at the historic TWA Flight Center in New York (the fantastic space, renovated for years and soon to be open as a hotel, was designed by Eero Saarinenback  in 1962), was all about the past: 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, combined with Elizabethan NYC’s art deco heritage. Which again reminds us that fashion, unfortunately, has problems with finding inspiration anywhere else. But back to the collection. Stewardess dresses and Chrysler-Building-inspired bags; 1980’s big sleeves and combat boots of the 1990s; Catwoman skullcaps and pantsuits of Wall Street. Highlight? Marte Mei van Haaster’s strass-lined caped crop-top. But in general, not a fan of this collection.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

80s. Louis Vuitton AW19

Nicolas Ghesquière‘s autumn-winter 2019 collection for Louis Vuitton was an ode to self-expression, but also, a clear nod to the 1980s. You loved it or hated it. With a faux Centre Pompidou facade built inside of Louvre’s Cour Carrée (yes, one mega-museum of Paris in another), the whole scene was time transporting. Eccentric and eclectic, the jackets had big shoulders, skirts were over-the-knee and prints made you think of the Memphis Group. The leather skullcaps and colourful riding boots are here for a go-kart race. The most convincing looks were the ones near the finale: high-waisted pants, over-sized blazers and leather ties (they made think of Hedi Slimane’s last season debut at Celine, though…). Can’t say this collection is a favourite of mine, but it was a closing statement of Paris fashion week: the past is today’s fashion favourite sandpit to play in.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Global. Louis Vuitton AW19

Virgil Abloh‘s second season at men’s Louis Vuitton. I’m not a fan of Abloh’s aesthetic in general, and I never really got the point of Off-White’s hype. But, his work at Vuitton is somewhat ‘profound’. It’s global. But not solely in the sense of more store openings, more celebrities wearing LV (even though those boxes are all checked, of course). The designer looks at the term ‘cultural diversity’ and bravely nods to it in his work. And, while Louis Vuitton is a huge platform, talking about important matters through clothes and events is more than respectful. For autumn-winter 2019, Virgil looked to the late Michael Jackson, setting the scene on a replica of New York street seen in the ‘Billie Jean’ video. Music is always the key for Virgil (who you surely know is also a free-lance DJ). Dev Hynes (!) and Ian Isiah performed new songs. Other than that, there was a live graffiti installation. This wasn’t a stiff fashion show, but a vibrant performance. Models weaved through the ‘street’ wearing flag print, intarsia fur coats and collars, tour-merch-style t-shirts, embellished jumpers and monogram embossed duvet jackets (their super-inflated effect looked impressive in leather). Jackson-inspired beaded, white gloves and jackets appeared as well. There are pieces that will disappear from the shelves immediately (like the over-sized jackets and bold bags) and garments that need more fashion courage (like the multi-layered blazers and pleated skirt-pants). I won’t say it’s a favourite for me, but you definitely can’t ignore this outing.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Future is Now. Louis Vuitton SS19

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While Nicolas Ghesquière‘s autumn-winter 2018 collection for Louis Vuitton was a bourgeois wardrobe fantasy, this season the designer returns to his all-time favourite themes: sci-fi, 80s call-backs and the clash between the old and the new. Innovative, rubber-like materials were used in architectural coats (that instantly recalled Nicolas’ brilliance at Balenciaga). The way the designer combined over-sized, space suit sleeves with meticulously embellished mini-dresses was so, so good. Need a fashion space-suit? Ghesquière has you covered with a floral ensemble. But there were also more approachable, easy clothes. Take the perfectly tailored blazers and boldly printed tank-tops. Oh, and the models! The casting stunned with beautiful diversity, from gorgeous new-comers and androgynous girls to runway veterans and transgender males. For Nicolas, the future is now.

Also, it’s the end of my Paris fashion week coverage. And a very happy good-bye to the fashion month.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.