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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Louis Vuitton Fall 2014: Nicolas Ghesquière Wins Paris Fashion Week

The lauded designer's first show for the house did not disappoint.

Nicolas Ghesquière's debut collection for Louis Vuitton. Photo: Getty
Nicolas Ghesquière's debut collection for Louis Vuitton. Photo: Getty

As someone who has been covering the shows on and off since
2006, I try to suppress my inner overzealous fashion fan. After all,
this is my profession, and I am only doing my job by sitting in the
audience. But I couldn't help but feel more than a little thrill this
morning at Nicolas Ghesquière's first show for Louis Vuitton.
He is, after all, the one that other designers follow so closely. It
was special to be able to witness him, and the house, starting over.

The show took place in the same venue where Marc Jacobs staged his Louis Vuitton shows
-- the Louvre's courtyard -- but unlike Jacobs' grand displays of past
seasons, the set was minimal. Guests -- of which there were about 1,000,
reportedly 800 fewer than last year -- sat on beige moleskin-covered
stairs, with only two or three rows per section. Just before opening
model Freja Beha Erichsen stepped out onto the runway, metal shutters
were pried open, letting in a stream of natural light.

wore a white turtleneck dress, paired with a black patent leather coat
that had a pointy brown collar. The silhouette -- a slight A-line -- was
the collection's calling card. There was a girlishness about it -- the
tweed empire waist dress with a white collar piped in black leather; the
leather slip dress with a diagonal insertion of tweed at the hem -- but
the rich fabrics (brushed shetland wool, crocodile, printed moleskin)
gave off just enough of a sophisticated air. Ghesquière is 42, so it
makes sense that he often references the late 1970s and early '80s.
Today, we could see his youth in the new takes on alpine sweaters, the
leisure suit-like collars and the use of colors like cognac, beige and
teal. "This familiar wardrobe appeals to the collection unconscious,
stirring our affective memory," the show notes said. "We never tire of
these perennial pieces." Of course none of these pieces looked ordinary
or sentimental. One look in particular -- a crocodile-zip vest paired
with an embroidered spiral skirt -- was so futuristic and covetable at
once that it is sure to influence a thousand designers.

beyond the coolness of the clothes, Ghesquière's first outing was so
remarkable because it was so true. He couldn't just borrow from the
house's fashion archives -- Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton's first
ready-to-wear designer, is his contemporary -- so instead he let the
house's heritage of leather goods inform the work. It was certainly
evident in the clothes, but more so in the accessories, which perfectly
toed the line between editorial and commercial. His mini "trunk"
shoulder bags had just enough novelty, and the patent-leather boots with
wrap-around leather straps were an instant classic.

It is
important to remember that Louis Vuitton's end goal is to continue to
sell lots and lots of handbags. But Ghesquière also presented clothes
today that will attract a buying audience. In fact, many may become
collector's items. "Does not every designer ultimately seek to create
something timeless?" Ghesquière said in what felt like a very personal
note left on every seat. As ready-to-wear businesses become more and
more important to luxury brands that are looking for new growth avenues,
his mission is more significant than ever.

Slideshow photos: Imaxtree

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Photo: Getty
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