Nicolas Ghesquière’s instinctive approach to womenswear often finds himself landing on hybridisation—of garments, of epochs, of places. It doesn’t always work for him, case in point: last season, a haphazardly curated mishmash of ‘stuff’, it was beautiful ‘stuff’ but it didn’t bear the same impact as his latest, Spring 2018 show. Deep in the bowels of the Louvre, where he was invited to present once again, in their Pavillon de l’Horloge, the models walked the catwalk ensconced in an environment which aims to tell the story of the museum, under the following headings: “from palace to museum”, “one museum, many collections” and “The Louvre today and tomorrow.” Perhaps the ethos of the recently opened building was Ghesquière’s starting point. He has long been fascinated by the concept of time. He examines the effect of melding the past, present and future and the emphasis was placed on that.
“From palace to museum”
The democratisation of fashion is a conundrum as far as luxury is concerned. How does a brand selling ready-to-wear and accessories for thousands of euros democratise? Well, simply, they democratise for those people—not every customer is as brave as the peacocks outside fashion shows biannually. Ghesquière perfected his sportswear knack this season. There were bike and basketball shorts aplenty, seen in baby blue, pink and ivory satin. Thick-soled trainers, reminiscent of recent developments at Balenciaga, Céline and Yeezy—although thoroughly unfashionable—looked brilliantly perverse alongside monogrammed Vuitton totes. It was this mixture that grounded the collection. Embroidered jackets with an 18th century flair, reminiscent of French impressionist paintings, were enriched with PVC trousers with a denim hem and sneakers. It was unconventional and contextualised richness in terms of the bourgeoisie.
“One museum, many collections”
Louis Vuitton is as much a French institution, engrained in French and world culture as the Louvre is. The Frenchman has been at the helm for almost four years and carved an incrementalist attitude. Seldom have there been wild departures from the previous season, it is about building upon the existing vernacular and developing that to suit the season. From the Resort 2018 show, presented in May in Kyoto, Japan, he carried forward the ostentation of print. Textural discord was on his mind—an iridescent jacquard waistcoat in a platinum hue contrasted with the lightness of a white blouse and against the stark black polka-dot trousers. It felt distinctly Vuitton, inspired by previous movements within the house. One felt Ghesquière transported some of his Balenciaga work into this show too—the asymmetric cascading ruffles reminded one of his flamenco-inspired Spring 2013 show. His self-referential nature provides for his reliable consistency and the distinctiveness of his design handwriting.
“The Louvre today and tomorrow”
No matter how coherent a Louis Vuitton show is, and no matter how decisive its styling is, there will always be some exciting proposition on display. And there will always be something that will have you come back. The notion of the present and the future are integral to the fashion process. For one, brands present in the here and now and are tasked with creating a spectacle; the Instagram moment this season was centred around the ‘Stranger Things’ t-shirt. But in terms of fashion content, there has to be something to propel us forward. Those turned-up, cropped leather trousers, modern yet timeless? Heavily decorated waistcoats over floaty blousons, synonymous with the past but destined for a revival? He manages to handpick references from the past that will remix the current state of fashion. The aforementioned sportswear element—and its connotations—work in a sublimely antagonistic fashion against the luxury of the decorative beading on Marie Antoinette-worthy jackets. It’s the direction of dressing, and direction is sorely missed in fashion.