Louis Vuitton – Nicolas Ghesquière

Latest posts by Jack Wardlaw (see all)

Marc Jacobs is a DILF. That is, a Designer I’d Like to Fuck (I wish I had come up with that one myself, but sadly my friend beat me to the punch).

You can imagine my horror, then, when it was announced that his S/S 14 collection of smokey showgirls adorned with jewels, leather and ostrich-feather headdresses for Louis Vuitton would be his last. My shock was shared by the rest of the fashion industry, who equally found it difficult to conceive of a fashion landscape that didn’t include him at the helm of the luxury giant. He was an incredible man, a man who held the position of Creative Director at Louis Vuitton for no less that sixteen years. It was he who introduced the Ready-To-Wear line and it was he who transformed the previously middle-market suitcase manufacturer into one of the most powerful and profitable business in the world and a staple in the LVMH conglomerate portfolio.

marc jacobs vuitton

His shows consistently outdid themselves, and became theatrical extravaganzas never before seen in the industry, incorporating everything from French maids to hotel corridors, and from a white carousel with fully working horses to a train station with an actual steam engine puffing into the show space. You cannot replace a man like Marc Jacobs, and the big-wigs at LV knew this. They appointed his replacement in October – Nicolas Ghesquière, the former Creative Director of Balenciaga – and the fashion world have waited anxiously for his launch ever since.

Yesterday was Ghesquière’s debut collection, and to say that the pressure was on would have been just a bit of an understatement. Was he going to try and match Jacob’s showmanship or do something new? If he did do something new, would it be in-keeping with Louis Vuitton’s image? Just as Sarah Burton had to make the tough decision after taking the reins at Alexander McQueen following the tragic death of Lee, so too did Ghesquière. What he gave was bold. Very bold.

In a word, it was “fresh”. The metal shutters that retracted to signal the start of the show let in a flood of natural light, illuminating the light, airy space in which the show was held – in the courtyard of the Louvre museum in Paris. Out stepped one of the coolest models of the moment, Freja Beha Erichsen, with a fresh face and relaxed, nonchalant hair to commence the huge spectacle of it all.

Nicolas Ghesquière vuitton

Except, it wasn’t really a spectacle, or at least a spectacle we have come to expect from Louis Vuitton under Jacob’s reign. The clothes were, quite simple, fresh, and in contrast to the rich indulgence and opulence of Jacobs’ last show. What was presented today was a completely new direction for Vuitton. Without an archive to plunder, Ghesquière could only do something new.

The opening looks were reminiscent of the school-girl silhouettes we saw in Milan at Gucci: short A line skirts, knee high boots and tiny box bags that resembled the suitcases responsible for establishing the house originally. Following on were twisted belts clinching in the waists of models wearing a variety of beautifully proportioned separates like pleated skirts, vinyl trousers and vintage inspired knitwear. His collection has a nuance of the 70s to it, emphasised in the colour palette of mustard, maroon, black, blue and brown, as well as in details like the sweater-vests and roll-neck jumpers that peppered the collection.

Nicolas Ghesquière

Exotic skins also appeared, giving the collection the expected sophistication of a Louis Vuitton collection, with alligator skins being used for coats and shoes, and elsewhere there was a liberal uses of leather for belts, bags and jackets. This was a grown-up take on youthful energy.

On each seat in the 1,000 strong audience was a note, written by Ghesquière himself, detailing the “immense joy” he was feeling at debuting his collection and saluting the work of his predecessor. This was indeed “a big day”, but the Provence born designer proved his talent when it mattered most. It was undeniably a new direction for Louis Vuitton, but one that already looks to be promising.

Let’s not forget that Louis Vuitton is, at the end of the day, a business trying to turn a profit and Ghesquière knows this. In recent years, Vuitton’s colossal turnover has been bolstered by the sales of the accessories – belts, sunglasses and obviously, the handbags – that now appear everywhere from A-list celebrities to members of The Only Way Is Essex. Brilliantly, Ghesquière has created a Ready-To-Wear collection that will be just as desirable, with those boots already being targeted by fashion buyers all over the world.

It was unsurprising to see him take his bow with a smile bigger than Anna Wintour’s sunglasses. He really has started a new reinvented age at Louis Vuitton, and has the fashion press on his side as he begins a new chapter in his career.

Images – NY Times.