Not one to explain his work, Ghesquiere clues us in with visual and cultural references, sending us back to the future with an incredibly site specific presentation for Louis Vuitton’s Fall 2019 collection. A replica of the Pompidou Center was created within the courtyard at the Louvre just for the show. The Pompidou Center has a particular historical connotation, having initially been met with a good deal of controversy before rightly earning its place as a Parisian cultural institution bringing people together with a multi-tiered offering of contemporary art, a public library, and a music research center. It handed the public the tools for exploration, education, and culture-building in a visionary inside-out architectural package designed to expose the machine-like inner workings.
Ghesquiere built this collection from elements gleaned from one of his favorite eras, the early to mid 80’s. Collecting iconic elements in the form of geometric shapes, beauty styling trends, colors, and construction details, Ghesquiere understands that culture is built and evolves from pieces of the past reinterpreted, ritualized, or dissected and used as a tool to communicate something completely new. The Louis Vuitton Fall 2019 collection brings together many styles under the unifying concept that the future is built out of the past. The 80’s decade was a time in fashion that many people are still uncomfortable with, with all it’s flangy, poofy shouldered, yolk-waisted glory. Yet somehow, Ghesquiere made it all feel new, relevant, and even edgy! It’s a hard collection to nail down, described by Ghesquiere as a melting pot of tribes, melding together everything from ditzy florals to punk leather to sporty windbreaker-esque jumpsuits, peasant blouses and tapered slacks.
There was a bit of a grown-up schoolgirl vibe to this collection, party due to the chunky oxfords styled with black tights on some of the looks. Yet instead of feeling too girly, these nostalgic elements felt grown up, sophisticated, and powerful, with modern sihouettes sculpted from distinctly 80’s shapes. Built-up shoulders are a staple these days for strong women, and Nicholas Ghesqiere has already established powerful shoulders and full sleeves as his signature style. Nonetheless, it was a shock to see new variations of peasant shirts appear so strong and modern, worn with pointy-yolked pants that actually appeared sexy. He transformed a classic high waisted pencil skirt with a double layer of flared insets on the sides of the hemline, creating a rocket-like fin.
The hair and makeup were kept simple. Natural feathery hair, minimal goth inspired dark red lipstick and clean black eyeliner. The weird leather skullcaps seemed to work, despite bearing a slight resemblance to toilet plungers. More like a new take on a slick leather beanie, they were occasionally bedecked with cool dangling leather feathers. One subtle detail that added a lot to the show was a glittering effect seen on garments of all kinds. Multiple sizes of tiny crystals, sequins, and laser cut pailettes resembling broken glass were strategically sprinkled over flecked wool tweed or leopard print blouses. This collection felt cohesive and held together by a bold color palette of bright primary colors against deep blacks, with common threads of the iconic 80’s cues throughout. Some of the looks could have been right out of The Heathers, yet it felt challenging, fun, and purposefully optimistic.