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At Louis Vuitton, Nicolas Ghesquière’s Newfound Ease

The designer’s latest collection was as high concept as ever, but the outcome felt fresh, even spontaneous, reports Angelo Flaccavento.
Louis Vuitton Autumn/Winter 2021. Louis Vuitton.
Louis Vuitton Autumn/Winter 2021. Louis Vuitton. (Giovanni Giannoni)

Travel is at the core of the Louis Vuitton brand, but what do you do when a pandemic keeps much of the world grounded? “There’s no need to venture far to create the impression of traveling” was the answer supplied by artistic director Nicolas Ghesquière. In practice, his collection was a familiar collage of far-ranging elements, stretching this season from the mythological iconography of Italian “practical madness” master Piero Fornasetti to angular volumes with an ’80s aftertaste. There were slouchy boots and padded capes stuck halfway between history and science fiction. Overall, the vision, staged in the Michelangelo and Daru galleries of the Louvre, certainly captured a mind traveling here and there, across time as well as space.

The past year seems to have been good for Ghesquière. Early in his tenure at Vuitton, his work was marked by a sort of forced conceptualism. You could see him and his teams fussing for days on every single look. The product of so much thinking and chiselling has felt, quite honestly, forced; a bit hard to decipher and digest.

Today’s outing had a certain ease, conveyed by the cocooning shapes, by clothing that danced away from the body. The time clashes and the juxtaposition of the overtly decorated and the more “casual” was definitely Ghesquière in method, but the outcome felt fresh, dare we say spontaneous. It would be interesting to see Ghesquière let go a little more in the future.

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