The choice of music (a song by Skream called “Copy Cat”) made a statement. So did the models and the decoration of the venue. Of course, the clothes spoke volumes. But the most exceptional, and endearing, expression that was to be found this morning at the debut collection of Nicolas Ghesquière for Louis Vuitton — the most hotly anticipated fashion moment of the season — was a note left by the designer (pictured) on the seat of every guest.
“Today is a new day,” the note began in a typewriter font. “A big day. You are about to witness my first fashion show for Louis Vuitton.”
Obviously, it was that. Beyond expressing his joy in the moment, Ghesquière made a gracious reference to his immediate predecessor, Marc Jacobs, who left the house after 16 years and who introduced the concept of ready-to-wear to the historic French luggage maker. Vuitton would not be what it is today without Jacobs. But the legacy now belongs to Ghesquière, a legacy he described in his note as “the quest for authenticity and innovation” and “the desire for timelessness.”
“Does not every designer ultimately seek to create something timeless?” he asked.
That is an important question to ask at the end of what has been a powerful fashion season with the Paris collections that concluded on Wednesday. What will we remember most when it comes time to buy clothes for fall? Certainly, we will note how many designers here paid close attention to the needs of the modern working woman in their collections, offering practical, easy, and sometimes simply fun clothes, like the endlessly amusing Chanel collection that Karl Lagerfeld set-designed to look like a Costco-scaled supermarket (pictured, left), or the Dior show that was the most personal statement from Raf Simons yet.
The ultimate pleasure in the Chanel show was in absorbing the tiny details – the luxury bags designed like milk cartons or commonplace insulated lunch bags, or a tunic with tiny banana and fruit embroidery that resembled Runts candies – and considering the show as a pointed statement on the gluttonous state of luxury goods consumption and mega-sized productions, before tossing that concern aside to just enjoy the moment. People leaving the Saint Laurent show by Hedi Slimane — by far the best of his work there yet and the most compelling of the collections that have dabbled in the swinging, leopard-print-happy aesthetic of the 1960s — could not stop talking about wanting to buy things. Isn’t that what fashion shows are meant for?
Miuccia Prada’s Miu Miu collection (pictured, above right) was nearly eclipsed by a wall of celebrities that included both supporting actor and actress winners Jared Leto and Lupito Nyong’o, imported fresh from the Oscars but seated, curiously, on opposite sides of the runway. But the clothes, a fanciful, pastel and sparkling riff on back-to-school quilted jackets and party dresses, were fantastically appealing.
But it is ultimately the Vuitton show that will be most discussed, because it defied almost everyone’s expectation of being a statement on futurism, an idea for which Ghesquière has long been known. Humberto Leon, one of many designers present at the show (along with Azzedine Alaïa, Jean Paul Gaultier, Jonathan Anderson, Christian Louboutin and more), said he thought it would have been more minimal. Instead it was largely about fresh, wearable clothes, with sweaters and cardigans bearing slightly askew bands of a vaguely Nordic pattern, a lot of crinkly, vintage-looking leather coats and skirts, and form-fitting knit pants. The famous LV logo appeared on small frame bags and pull-on Chelsea-style booties, or an occasional long leather belt that was wrapped and tied at the waist.
Backstage after the show, Ghesquière was mobbed.
“Formidable,” said Bernard Arnault, the chairman of LVMH, in French.
“Amazing,” said Chloë Sevigny.
Ghesquière was taking it all in, accepting the compliments as they came, under the glare of camera lights.
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