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.