PARIS, France — If there’s been one name to drop this season, it’s been Nicolas Ghesquière’s. His glory days at Balenciaga have been a fount of inspiration. So wouldn’t this be just the right moment for him to step up to the plate and remind us all of how and why he earned his rep? Ghesquière’s time at Louis Vuitton has, after all, sent a much more muted message than his 15 years at Balenciaga.
“I’m happy there’s so much visibility,” he said after the latest Vuitton show on Wednesday when he was asked about his status as fashion’s major influencer, “but I don’t look back. I’m moving forward always.” Nevertheless, his fans would have been thrilled to see echoes of the old Ghesquière in the style and substance of the new Vuitton.
His presentation was a digital assault on the senses, sound and vision combining to make the audience feel like they were inside the Matrix. One of his inspirations was the Japanese manga Evangelion. The girls striding by in their slash-shouldered woven leather tunics, embroidered kilts and platform sandals could have been manga warriors. There were even moments when The Hunger Games came to mind, what with the screens above and all around the audience furiously streaming content throughout the whole show.
Another inspiration was Wong Kar Wei’s 2046, its fluid non-chronological movement through past, present and future found echoes in Ghesquire’s collection, in, for instance, an outfit consisting of a high-necked chiffon blouse with Victorian detailing, paired with a painted leather vest and printed bermudas, or in a passage of spectacularly squirmy dressed-up looks made of tulle covered with celluloid sequins, under which the fabric was bubbled and then hand-painted.
The combination of high tech and high touch is a Ghesquière signature. “We’re living in this digital world, but at the same time we have a real life,” he mused. That translated into designs that felt like an optimistic take on modernity: real fabrics — leather, cotton, linen, silk — cut into clothes with a sharp, cyber-edged functionality infused with humanity. The knitted leather tank with a tribal trim of feathers, or the utterly wonderful painted leather biker jackets were further reminders.
The trousers alone marked a return to the form that made Ghesquière famous. The word “return” would undoubtedly stick in his craw, so it’s better, then, to imagine that this is a preview of a dazzling future. In every way. As the shownotes read, “The only limit is your imagination.”