PARIS, France — The set of the new Louis Vuitton show was raised on a paradox: an archaeological dig which uncovers a city of the future: 57 concrete columns covered with shattered glass, a kind of techno-Atlantis in Nicolas Ghesquière's mind. If Vuitton's bloodline is travel, then here was the ultimate journey, into the distant past to uncover the far future.
That combination of the classical and the futuristic has been something of a signature in Ghesquière's career, but after his show on Wednesday, he was pretty insistent that "futurism" didn't really apply to his work at Vuitton.
Snippets from the shownotes, such as "Recasting yesterday's creations for today's tastes" and "affectionately revisiting the past," clarified the character of a collection that felt, here and there, like a distracting game of Spot The Reference.
Rifat Ozbek’s American Indian bone jacket made an early appearance. A Tron-like jumpsuit had a Gaultier vibe. So did the graphic tube dresses holding ruffled hems tight and an hourglass silhouette that was reminiscent of Gaultier-doing-Dior. Glossy black patent inevitably evoked Courrèges.
Then there were a couple of looks over-printed with a photo-image of sequined dresses onto which real sequins were sewn. That rang a Margiela bell. And all of this was before we even got to Ghesquière doing Ghesquière. The Motocross-ish pants. The foulard prints (always his friend). The fierce body-conscious sportiness (Metropolis leather bustiers!) that gave his Balenciaga collections their go-fast vigour.
But, with all the designer’s talk about creating a wardrobe for the Vuitton woman, the mesh of references made a lot of sense. Who, after all, only has one designer name hanging in her closet? Whose clothes tell only one story, especially if travel is in your DNA?
And it did seem to be story telling that absorbs Ghesquière at Vuitton. First, that set, then the clothes, and underneath it all on Wednesday morning, Lou Reed’s long, winding Street Hassle, a saga in sound.