The view outside the window was the grand serenity of Paris’ Place Vendôme - all cream stone façades with the column in the centre.
“Old fashioned with a new vibe,” said company Chairman and CEO Michael Burke to describe the interior, as guests were hustled up the raw stone stairs to a room with lines of regal metallic chairs. The notables included film stars such as the Oscar-winning Alicia Vikander, Michelle Williams, and Léa Seydoux, and LVMH Chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault’s family clan. That included his son Antoine Arnault with partner Natalia Vodianova, and Antoine’s younger brother Alexandre, who told me that he was excited at taking charge of LVMH’s newly purchased brand - the German luggage maker Rimowa.
So all was set for the time capsule to take off… And designer Nicolas Ghesquière still has that faint aura of futurism that exploded when he first came centre stage at Balenciaga in 1997 at the age of 25. But the spaceship has never quite landed at Louis Vuitton, although there were some sport garments such as a white-on-black dotted shirt with super-skinny trousers traced with gilding.
The top half was a play on checked prints that emerged with dots. I immediately recalled a Vuitton show under the previous creative regime of Marc Jacobs. In 2012 Marc had a collection of four chequerboard escalators disgorging similarly patterned dresses inspired by the sculpture in the gardens of the Palais-Royale, and the same year started Louis Vuitton’s collaboration with Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Were these clues or coincidences?
Ghesquière is a fine tailor, and when he sent out a lean grey jacket it looked streamlined and modern - especially in comparison to the following version when the upper sleeves were hacked away. There were also excellent leather jackets and a striking top with an image in vibrant colours portraying a techno version of the carved stone masks decorating the archways of the Place Vendôme.
But in the crazy busy lives of modern women, so much looked complex and demanding. If there were any real message from this Louis Vuitton show, it was this: nothing among the slashed outfits or flesh-revealing chiffon was as easy to grasp as those small, neat, unstoppable little handbags.