Nicholas Ghesquière’s Cruise 2020 collection for Louis Vuitton pays cinematic tribute to era-agnostic jet set travel.
Louis Vuitton is synonymous with luxury travel, from its long heritage as a master trunkmaker to its modern-day luggages and city guides that inspire chronic wanderlust.
For the sixth chapter of his cruise collection for the house, creative director Nicholas Ghesquière continues to deliver his travel-centric resort vision for Louis Vuitton through the lens of architectural masterpieces that inspire him.
This year, the rhinestone-bedecked show was set in the awe-inspiring TWA Flight Centre, also known as the Trans World Flight Center, a disused airport terminal at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. Designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen in 1962, the fantastical building was hailed as the “Grand Central of the jet age”, and looks every bit a grounded UFO waiting to take flight.
The swooping neo-futuristic lines and jet age glamour of the venue provided the perfect backdrop to the spikey, sparkling sci-fi idiosyncrasy of Ghesquière’s collection. This year, we’re talking an eclectic parade of city silhouettes mashing up references from the 50s, 80s and 90s, with urban yuppie swagger and cheeky Gotham City superhero motifs.
The main story here, Ghesquière said in a preview, “was getting back to the first feeling I had when I came to New York.” Having passed through that very airport terminal in the early 90s arriving in the Big Apple, Ghesquière remembers the high-energy sensorial assault of the bright lights and big city, and he has deftly captured that with this new collection.
Flights of Fancy
Using striking visual references reminiscent of Richard Nagel and Bladerunner, through to the geometric Art Deco lines of the Chrysler Building, Ghesquière evokes New York in stunning, unexpected turns.
Crystal embroidered capelets are paired with two-tone blazers and cinched waists, recalling the 1980s with bubble skirts and stirrup leggings. It calls to mind images of sassy working city girls, but elevated to fantasy proportions and textures with couture-worthy details, evident in the exquisite beadwork and brocade – a dialogue between French high fashion and American street spirit.
The city itself looms large in Ghesquière’s sartorial imagination, and dominates garment shapes and structures, which are as monumental as the famous glass and steel edifices he pays tribute to, with sweeping shoulder peaks and jaunty bolero-style capelets. Leather jackets emblazoned with souvenir-style New York citylines in acid pink, peach and electric blues give a wink to comic cliches of the city, and the Chrysler Building has its own starring role as a mirrored gem of a mini box-bag.
Hints of Gotham City run through the collection – we see echoes of the bat signal on the signature Alma Moon bags, the tips of bat ears peeking out through strass-lined capelet wings. The 1990s also gets a nod with a more hard-edged look, with city shorts and black, stompy cap-toed combat boots stamped with a steampunk-style logo.
New Look, New Shapes
The key bags of the season consist of iconic shapes, as well as new classics like the Dauphine, shown in the iconic reverse monogram, as well as quite a few novelty versions. The Alma has also been reimagined with new V-shaped zip detailing and playful moon insignia, and is also available as a backpack.
Mini bags this season are playful – one avocado-shaped mini clutch arrives in classic tonal-brown monogram, and the modern classic Multi Pochette Accessoires Twist bag features new customisable detachable components.
A daring new technological twist this season is the OLED treatment, featuring an in-built power pack and flexible digital screens displaying moving cyber images of the city, updating the classic duffle and bucket bags with a distinctly Tron-like feel. An exciting new innovation that paves the way for the possibility of connected accessories in a digital future.
New York Calling
All in all, Nicholas Ghesquière’s Cruise 2020 collection is a richly imagined urban landscape populated by the intrepid planetary traveller, belonging to no one particular time and space, but evoking the frenetic forward-moving energy of his favourite iconic big city.
Images courtesy of Louis Vuitton, artwork by Curatedition. All rights reserved.