The futuristic, Frank Gehry-designed structure seemed to float like a boat against the blue sky of the Bois de Boulogne. This is the new Fondation Louis Vuitton, which was the exceptional venue for Vuitton’s Spring/Summer 2015 fashion show.
This view of the Fondation, which is a centre dedicated to modern and contemporary art that Bernard Arnault will open to the public on October 27, was more than a sensational architectural vision. It was also the backdrop for designer Nicolas Ghesquière’s second show for the house.
Would it drive the designer to a modernist flourish — something as extraordinary as the set of lights that bathed the dark room where the presentation was held, as if mirroring the cascading water outside?
The tension built until the show started, with LED holograms of models’ faces. Speaking in digital unison, they listed the 3,600 glass panels and 15 thousand tons of steel used to create the structure in which we now sat.
Then what? “The Sound of Silence” — summoning up the Simon & Garfunkel years, and on the runway, the reincarnation of Edie Sedgwick, who lived a wild Andy Warhol life in the Sixties and died in 1971, the year Ghesquière was born.
What followed were casual outfits, from lacy dresses with clerical collars and the texture of macramé, to denim printed with retro illustrations of hairdryers, eyelash curlers and cadillacs. And a velvet underground of tops and trousers in rich patterns. All were excellently executed and dynamic in detail. And almost every model carried a bag.
“I wasn’t looking for a big break from my last season, I want to define my cool girl,” said Ghesquière.
He certainly knows how to catch the look of the moment: perfectly cut trousers, seemingly simple separates made to perfection in sumptuous fabrics, boots of differing heights. And the bags, which exuded desirability.
It was easy to spot the handbag winner: a purse in rippled grainy cowhide with a squishy corner, as displayed by Delphine Arnault, Vuitton’s executive vice-president.
It is unfair to both the label and its designer of two seasons to harken back to the latter’s Balenciaga years, where Ghesquière spent half of his 15-year fashion life before appearing front of stage.
Since he was looking back to the Seventies and Eighties, I thought about an earlier Balenciaga collection, inspired by Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, when a tiny team put together the entire event. And the more recent, perverse exploration of work clothes, shown in a futuristic office from the Seventies.
At Vuitton, Ghesquière has a dream position as the creative lead of a brand whose focus is leather goods, but whose mission is to bring dynamism into clothing, just as his predecessor Marc Jacobs did before him — sometimes with too much gusto.
There was plenty to like at the Spring/Summer 2015 show, but nothing twisted or crazy or compelling. But customers are sure to love it all — which is a positive.
It is tough to jump into a role in the public eye. And who knows how the collection would have looked if the clothes had not been in competition with one of the world’s great architects and his compelling creation.