Mar 6, 2023
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Louis Vuitton: Edgy urban luxury in the Musée d’Orsay

Mar 6, 2023

How to survive with style in the urban jungle was the overriding image of the latest collection by Nicolas Ghesquière for Louis Vuitton staged Monday lunchtime in Paris.

Louis Vuitton AW23 - FNW

Presented in the grandeur of a series of gilded rooms within the Musée d’Orsay, the pre-show soundtrack was of a busy rush hour and madding crowds. Which made double sense, as the museum was an actual railway station for 40 years before becoming a museum of essentially French art in 1986.
Ghesquière’s cast also looked busy, marching quickly to an unknown destination as they surged around the western salons of the Beaux Arts. In case you didn’t get the idea – the runway was an all-black version of a patched-up cobblestone Paris street.

Huge mechanical speakers and sound baffles rotated throughout the show – all in black. Once again, artist Philippe Parreno and production designer James Chinlund dreamed up the scenography. While the bizarre soundtrack – from police sirens to a discordant orchestra that suggested Stockhausen on the Seine – was based on sound illusions conceived by Nicolas Becker.
The set also proved useful post-show, when scores of Vuitton’s VVIP clients began to pose for photos under the techy structures, attired in all their LV finest. Ironically, attempting to look as much as possible like the influencers who are given the same clothes for free. 

Louis Vuitton AW23 - FNW

The collection itself marked a major shift by Nicolas. Beginning with its dark palette contrasting mightily with the gold and silver worn by scores of influencers, who had a grand old time photographing each other pre show, and posting on Instagram. They had plenty of time. Even after a loud voice on the sound system beseeched ladies and gentlemen to take their seats, as the show was about to begin, a further 10 minutes elapsed before a model appeared.

Then there was a sea-change in the overall mood. Gone were the techy active sportswear experiments of so many Ghesquière shows for Vuitton. In came lots of natural fibers and fabric, even if Nicolas cut the clothes to suggest dash and dynamism. 
He wowed with a trio of excellent bouclé wool décolleté dresses – nipped at the waist, and padded to sit slightly off the torso. He wrapped giant pleated collars around the neck; placed the plaquettes of tuxedo shirts outside waistcoats and stiffened a chalk-stripe cocktail so it hung like a perfect square around the knees. In short, this was a master class in path-breaking dress-making.
And dynamic tailoring too – from matinee idol suits with wide-legged pants and double breasted jackets to very memorable matelassé leather mod suits in battleship gray.

Louis Vuitton AW23 - FNW

Along with the clothes there was a great series of handbags – from a whole mini Haussmann mansion bag to a marvelous looking padded bag in everything from burnish leather to red, white and blue. For this felt very much like a celebration of France, in a show whose program note, began by asking “What is French style?”
Before answering: “an ineffable magnetism that still intrigues the world; that too is paradoxical: sophistication with a dilettante’s air. French allure is a trompe l’oeil. The French touch never seems to captivate.”
The event also marked the women’s wear debut of the recently appointed CEO Pietro Beccari, who joined LV from Dior. When entering, the $64,000 question on everyone’s lip was whether one of Beccari’s earliest decision would be to replace Ghesquière? The designer has been there for nine and a half years – a long reign by any standards.
Well, the collection turned out to be Ghesquière’s best for Vuitton for a good half decade. So, methinks, we can put away the P-45 forms for another season.

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