Louis Vuitton: A composition to the music of time
Last but very definitely not least, Louis Vuitton closed out the four-week international catwalk collections on Tuesday evening with the most brilliantly staged single show of all, and a powerful, agenda-setting collection that played on the notion of bending time.
Talk about a great opening and a unique backdrop. A giant curtain suddenly pulled up to reveal some 200 opera singers dressed as great historical figures, standing in six rows like a massive living fresco. Each costume provided by the great Milena Canonero, the Italian multi-Oscar winner, who worked with Stanley Kubrick on Clockwork Orange and Barry Lyndon. Each of the Vuitton characters rising and singing, and acting out their roles, gesturing with grand sweeps of their arms.
Out from among them marched the cast – in a collection that jumped back and forth between clever historicism and avant-garde modernism. Spanish ruffled skirts paired with composite ski jackets, until this pairing met in stunning matching skirt and blouson in matte pewter leather. All the opening ideas anchored by sci-fi rockabilly boots – in silver or studded black patent leather.
“Time is primordial in fashion. And, so I wanted different eras to face another one, our own. All these pasts are incarnated by the stand of personalities in historical costumes,” explained Vuitton’s women’s creative director, Nicolas Ghesquière.
Ambiguous in terms of gender, with mannish pinstripe cigarette pants, Edwardian dandy waistcoats and Savile Row rocker jackets with slanted pockets. Space age techie finishes blending with silver jacquards.
Scores of commercial accessories; from the new all-white LV Archlight, to some cunning golden minaudières, to fantastic mock moonboots with an LV-indented logo. The latter paired with parachute pants that looked so now, as did most of this collection.
For his finale, a couple of matador jackets; blasts of light caught in the spotlights inside the all black custom-made show-space, built inside the Cour Carrée courtyard of the Louvre.
All marching to a pretty remarkable soundtrack: Three Hundred and Twenty, composed by Woodkid and Bryce Dessner; named for the number of years between the early Baroque music in the piece and its contemporary minimalist sounds.
And including the largely obscure composer Nicolas de Grigny – expressing the clash of time, that was the leitmotif of this event; and also the theme of the next major exhibition in the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of New York. This year, Vuitton is the main sponsor of its annual ball.
All together, this was a rather brilliant finale to a strong season of shows in Paris, though one obviously overshadowed by deep concerns about coronavirus.
Especially in a profession, whose major players and decision-makers travel incessantly. And in an industry braced to suffer from the nose-dive in travel and shopping in the coming months.
A Paris season, however, which ended with only two cancelled shows out of some 70 shows on the official schedule.
“Quite frankly, we were under a lot of pressure to pull out. But I think that would have been wrong. I believe it had to be Christian Dior opening the week and Vuitton closing it. I think we owed that to people, and to Paris, to be professional and continue,” explained Vuitton CEO, Michael Burke, the largest single fashion brand within the LVMH luxury empire that includes Dior, and a further five other houses that staged shows in Paris.
None of which cancelled their shows.
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