On the bright and sunny final day of Paris Fashion Week, the fashion world was treated with its first visit to the impressive Louis Vuitton Foundation building in the Bois de Boulogne at the edge of Paris. Designed by Frank Gehry, and six years in the making, the building, which officially opens to the public at the end of the month, has an other-worldly allure to it that draws visitors in. Its curving sail shaped glass walls, cascading plains of water and a whimsical fun house use of mirrors that reflects the image of people walking by like a faithful twin accompanying them on their journey all captivated guests as they were lead to the show venue for the latest Louis Vuitton collection.
And then everything went black.
Down a dark corridor guests arrived in the inky black show space, lit only by beams of light shining though the hazy air to dot the length of the catwalk. There was a feeling of being in a sensory deprivation tank, a place where time and space fall away and the lines blur between the beginning of one thing and the end of another. This spaced out sensation was only heightened by the ambient music that brought to mind the sound track from the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Maybe with his sophomore collection for the house, designer Nicolas Ghesquière was going to transport the audience into outer space? He certainly was in a building that looked like it was capable of making the voyage. And it was a theme he had tapped into in the past.
It was a feeling that was only heightened by the start of the show. Appearing on transparent glass, an assortment of youthful talking heads appeared to give guests a rundown of facts: that they were in an “undisclosed location at this time” and that “a beginning is a very delicate time” and, perhaps most importantly, “The LV house wants to explore the ability to travel to any part of the universe without moving”.
Thus prepped, the guests were more than ready for life off.
But as the familiar notes of the Simon & Garfunkel song “Sounds of Silence” began to play, pretty much the theme song of the late 1960s and early 70s, it became clear that this show wasn’t going to be so much a journey through space but rather a voyage through time.
Picking up perfectly off the back of last season’s show, Ghesquière created a cohesive collection that developed ideas that he had just touched on in his debut. His impressive talents with state of the art construction techniques and love of modern fabrics once again worked marvelously well, backed by the wealth of noble textiles Louis Vuitton has put at his disposal.
He started strong with some fitted “mixed media” dresses and tops that wove together an array of different knitting techniques to create a textural eye-catching design. One that he elaborated on throughout the collection, later offering the idea up in softer ruffled short dresses, and towards the end he folded in sections crafted out of knitwear or leather to give the elaborate construction a heightened sense of daring.
A selection of stripy eel pieces will be fought over for editorial coverage. As will some playful pieces covered in a print that featured floating household objects like hairdryers, eyelash curlers and salt and pepper shakers or a group of shimmer trompe l'oeil mini dresses. The velvet pants and head to toe printed versions will also get pulled by stylists but might be passed over by customers who want to keep that aspect of the 70s a distant memory.
There was also a large selection of quilted, boxy Louis Vuitton bags to choose from. But they actually worked like accessories this season, rather than statement pieces, blending in seamlessly into each technically impressive look.