The street is where fashion’s at.
Set against the colossal backdrop of Paris’ Centre Pompidou, Nicolas Ghesquière’s current collection for the French brand had in fact, taken place at the City of Light’s Lourve museum, in the courtyard of the Cour Carre. This is very same venue where the label has presented most of its new seasonal collections in recent years. The production of a museum within a museum was more than just an outré effort in artistic expression, it conveyed a touching message on cultural clashes, creative living and — but, of course — freedom of fashion.
Ghesquière’s opening look saw a model march down the runway dressed in a monochromatic dress, paired with an armour-like wrap vest. The dress was cut from tweed and boasted a subtle twist of red, yellow and blue yarn spun discreetly into its fancy weave. A tribute to the famed rainbow palette of the Pompidou, perhaps? After all, there were several looks painted in the same primary colours, as well as a Damier check Mini Luggage BB bag trimmed with colourful leather panels, too.
This peculiar Seventies by way of Eighties opening look was followed by a series of similar tweed ensembles. The decorative details varied but the thigh-skimming length remained consistent, unless interrupted by the pairings of trousers, which were nevertheless cut stylishly flared or neatly cuffed at the hem.
There were hints of Claude Montana and the New Romantics movement (or both) in several of these pieces. Shoulders were fashioned wide and exaggerated with a little help from theatrical collars and ruffles. Coats came in geometrically beautiful shapes, be it rounded or angular (and with upturned or contrasting leather lapels — no less!). Print and colours were subversive and jarring — think abstract florals and ditsy florals, mixed with cheetah prints, car rally checks, plaid… The looks were undeniably loud yet strangely über chic.
A melting pot of avant garde styles pretty much summarizes Ghesquière’s unusually cheerful/festive design storyboard. As a matter of fact, it also substantiates the show’s Pompidou set reference.
For the uninitiated, the Pompidou Centre was designed by architects Renzo Piano and Richard Roger after winning a competition to snag the high-profile design job. Opened to the public in 1977, this artistic monument was extremely radical for its time and was aimed at bringing crowds of people together in an exuberant turf within the city. Fashion-wise, the neighbourhood where Pompidou Centre is located boasts a reputation for eyeballing the brilliance of street fashion.
“The Centre Pompidou, Beaubourg, Les Halles, Place des Innocents: A fascinating incubator of a neighbourhood. An incredible melange, converging in the epicentre,” cited Ghesquière of the bustling locale. “The cliques, the styles, the life… I love that impression of a sartorial melting pot. Today, I’ve transposed it at Louis Vuitton: A House of multiple expressions…,” concluded the 48-year old French creative director.
Ghesquière’s jacket story alone demonstrated a broad spectrum on his brand of fashion eclecticism. From cool cat biker/aviator bombers to snazzy New Wave menswear styles, the narrative on outerwear spoke volumes on Ghesquièr take on androgynous fashion. There was even a quilted sportswear jacket with a wallpaper-esque floral panel that appeared more Tomboy-cool than it was girly.
The 57-look collection was not short on feminine ensembles either. Ghesquière showed a reasonable number of dresses that were modest, as well as skin-baring and superbly sexy. They were ladylike without being too typically girlish, despite the trimmings of flouncy ruffles or low-plunging necklines in some exits.
Touches of design irreverence saw Ghesquière’s take on accessories exude a sense of fashionable defiance, as well as youthful, streetstyle posh. The bag collection in itself embodied a sportswear luxe that felt stripped down of its usual cult-brand fanfare — even in Monogram canvas styles, the bags appeared understated and insouciantly cool. Elsewhere, the brand’s iconic Damier check was updated in a whimsical quilted effect, too.
The shoe collection saw the other influence on the collection’s nod to boyish chic. Ghesquière experimented in mainly two styles: A creeper-inspired lace-up and a flat bootie/calf boot that was part Chelsea, part buckle boot. There was the occasional Mary Jane flat that was more awkward than beautiful but still managed to pack in some street cred punch.
Image credits: Runway images courtesy of Louis Vuitton, artwork by Curatedition. Louis Vuitton FW 2019 look as worn on model Leevke/Ave: styling by Sharon Tulasidas, Photography by Wee Khim, Hair & Make-up by Marc Teng.