Time traveling with Louis Vuitton

GLOSS THE RECORD - Marbbie Tagabucba - The Philippine Star
Time traveling with Louis Vuitton
At Louis Vuitton’s Spring-Summer 2022 collection, Nicholas Ghesquière brings back panniered dresses that call to mind Empress Eugénie de Montijo who gave Louis Vuitton his big break when she appointed him as her exclusive trunk maker. This year marks Louis Vuitton’s 200th birthday.

Every spring collection we’re seeing out of fashion month is the result of a year of isolation and introspection. At Louis Vuitton, Nicholas Ghesquière, artistic director of women’s collections, has a “le grand bal of Time” with clothing as his conduit.

His first stop? 1853, at the Louvre’s Passage Richelieu. There, Empress Eugénie de Montijo (Napoleon Bonaparte’s wife) met Louis Vuitton himself and gave him his big break as she appointed him as her exclusive trunk maker.

In 2021 it is the chandeliered runway for the brand’s Spring-Summer 2022 womenswear collection and the beginning of the brand’s global activations for Vuitton’s 200th birthday. At the brand’s first IRL show, the empress is referenced in opulent panniered dresses, girded, however, at the hips for a drop-waist look. Later on, the silhouette is adapted to cargo pants and skirts that are wide at the hips paired with jackets and jabots that are anything but prim.

As the show codes say, Ghesquière’s time-travelers have “a desire for transmission.” The tough wrestling boots will give them away — peep-toed, they call to mind the early 2000s booties trend he helped propel at another House almost two decades ago — in contradictory precious satin and shiny croc. So will the dress code-blurring juxtaposition of straight-cut jeans with a flapper’s beaded bias-cut slip dress, or a sumptuous tailcoat fashioned out of humble blue denim, styled with art deco sunglasses, and boxy tailcoats with cargo pants or jeans topped with art nouveau headpieces not unlike those worn at a masquerade depicted in an Erté illustration.

In an alternate present are Ghesquière’s costumes for his heroine, an actress who reprises the role of the crafty female crook Irma Vep. Played by Maggie Cheung as herself in 1996, the upcoming HBO and A24 limited series stars Alicia Vikander, one of the House’s muses.

While Irma Vep toes “the border of fiction and reality, artifice and authenticity, art and life,” as HBO describes, Ghesquière sees her as a time-traveler, too. “I like the figure of a vampire who travels through the ages, adapting to dress codes of the era,” he explains in a press release. Instead of leather bodysuits sourced from a BDSM shop, Ghesquière dresses her in billowing capes. Back at his latest LV collection, they are enlivened with couture-level feathering, or with polka dots, or as an accent over going-out tops for the club — perhaps this generation’s equivalent of a ball, as we dream of decadent nights that carry on until sunrise.

A protestor from the Amis de la Terre France campaign group breaks the magic of the ball as she crashes the runway with a banner reading "Overconsumption = extinction.” It gets the conversation going as Ghesquière creates covetable vintage for the future. It’s proof of the brand’s enduring power as a platform today — something that took off with a presentation of trunks on that very passage.

Ghesquière’s costume design work for Alicia Vikander for Irma Vep influences the lineup of capes.


Louis Vuitton is at Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Makati and The Shoppes at Solaire Resort and Casino, Manila.


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