Fresh from last week’s Chanel Monte Carlo extravaganza, the fashion set thrown off to San Diego for Louis Vuitton’s sun-soaked Cruise 2023 collection – and what a glorious event it was.
The setting for the show was The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, architect Louis Kahn’s striking Brutalist masterpiece which houses one of the most cutting-edge biomedical research centers in the world – a particularly fitting backdrop for the house’s first Cruise show since the ‘end’ of the pandemic.
‘Louis Kahn imagined a place of serenity and reflection, taking inspiration from monasteries and artistic retreats,’ says Nicolas Ghesquière, Louis Vuitton’s creative director. ‘[But] beyond the very impressive site, this place holds enormous meaning for the future of humankind. It’s a working institute, which is unprecedented for our Cruise show locations.’
It was another Californian masterpiece, however, that was the star of the show: the sun. Ghesquière’s guest of honor ‘opened’ the show with a spectacular sunset, preparing guests including Phoebe Dynevor, Lea Seydoux and Gemma Chan for the main event.
In this particular location, ‘it’s as if the sun had found its frame,’ explains Ghesquière. ‘It plays with the building’s perspective and its rays culminate in the linear fountainhead, the vanishing point where the water seems to turn to liquid gold. When I saw its strange harmony, everything clicked.’
Naturally, then, the Cruise 2023 collection featured ‘clothes for celebrating the sun as well as clothes for protecting yourself from it’. Think molten metallics that shimmered under the sun and down the runway, protective, futuristic-looking sunglasses, jacquard goddess-style robes, hybrid shoes which were a blend of desert boots, trainers and mules, and complex, draped fabrics which lent a nomadic aesthetic .
Fabrics were as cutting-edge as ever. ‘In most of the show, it’s cotton, silk and wool that we manage to render visually technical without using glue or thermo-moulding,’ noted Ghesquière. ‘It’s a major evolution in the transformation of fabrics. Very shiny frayed tweeds, sequins, leathers and metallic denim – all raw materials mixed with shine. There is also metallic embroidery that will oxidize with time and change colour.’ Graphic prints, on the other hand, were created using a thermographic camera.
Other highlights included leather belts styled over bare midriffs, an LV-monogrammed silver skateboard, and the show closing to the sound of Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth. An explicit message if ever we heard one, and quite right too.
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