Fashion Article of the Month

Fashion Article of the Month
Louis Vuitton closes first audience-free Paris fashion week in Louvre
Jess Cartner-Morley
10 March 2021

Source: The Guardian
Level: Upper Intermediate


Vocabulary in context

Marquee /mɑːˈkiː/
A large tent used for social or commercial functions.

Catwalk setting for luxury luggage brand is in intimate Michelangelo sculpture galleries

Louis Vuitton’s Paris show closed a catwalk season which will go down in fashion history not for a trend or a hemline, but for being the first to take place entirely without live audiences. Nicolas Ghesquière, along with most other designers, hopes it will also be the last.

The creative director said he stuck to filming a traditional catwalk format, instead of attempting a narrative movie, because “I wanted to do a pure fashion moment. We had everything except the audience. I miss you all.” In a zoom call after the show, he added: “Paris is a wonderful city but without visitors, it is not the same.”

Louis Vuitton, which began as a luggage brand and is steeped in the glamour of jet-set travel, has a vested interest in the reopening of international borders. But the ban on audience did have a silver lining for Ghesquière, who has the luxury of staging his catwalk in the Louvre each season, Louis Vuitton being one of the museum’s most generous donors. Without guests to accommodate, he was upgraded from a temporary marquee to the more intimate setting of the Michelangelo sculpture galleries. “In December I went to the Louvre and they showed me three locations, including this beautiful gallery which is usually too small to do a show and which will be under restoration for the next two years. I thought, OK, I can do something special.”

The film fitted the mood music of the week, which has been of a fashion industry confident that it is about to reap the benefits of a year of pent-up energy. The show opened with a hoodie – but in lemon organza, the hood embroidered with a crown of sequins, worn over a tulle skirt in sky blue. There was slick leather, sharp tailoring and even a drop-waisted, roaring 20s flapper-silhouette dress in silver.

Daft Punk, for whom Ghesquière designed stagewear while designing at Balenciaga a decade ago, agreed to curate a new soundtrack out of live versions of their music. “I wanted something that would bring a jolt of energy to an audience watching at home,” Ghesquière said. “Everyone in the studio, from the older team members to the young assistants, has great memories of listening to their music.”

After the soundtrack was finalised, Daft Punk announced they were splitting up, “which makes it feel even more of a gift to have worked with them,” said Ghesquière. “To me, they are great French artists.”

A year in which loungewear has become a new normal poses a challenge to Ghesquière, who brought sneakers, bright colours and technical fabrics into fashion as a way to shake up the catwalk. Now that sportswear has gone from edgy to oversaturated, where can he go next? “If there is a positive to come out of this year, it is that comfort is not a bad word,” he said. “Comfort is not something we associate with beautiful fashion, but now my clothes are padded and soft as well as being highly decorative. There has always been an idea of armour in fashion – but now that we are wearing masks in real life, the role of fashion is different. It is about feeling well, feeling protected.”

With Europe still under lockdown, the brand is focused on resurgent markets in Asia. “China is an amazing place for a designer, because the market there is extremely demanding of newness and high fashion,” said Ghesquière, adding that while the size of the Chinese market is well-known, “what people don’t always understand is how sophisticated the Chinese consumer is.”