Nicolas Ghesquière unveiled an aquatic collection – one part sci-fi, one part fantasy.
The images of the Louis Vuitton Cruise 2024 show are what could-have-been, or more accurately what should-have-been. On a glimmering little gem of an island called Isola Bella in Lake Maggiore, Italy framed by verdant mountains, exquisite gardens awaited the arrival of Louis Vuitton’s guests from all corners of the world. The French luxury house has hosted tremendous Cruise shows since 2015 in locations renowned for their beauty and architectural wonderment. Isola Bella promised to be one of its most thrilling destinations, reachable only by boat and featuring a botanical garden fashioned after the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, replete with geometrically carved out flora, subtropical plants, and a scattering of white peacocks.
But Nicolas Ghesquière’s vision was deluged by a flood of rain that beat without ceasing, forcing the elaborate show staging quickly inside of the garden’s adjoining palazzo. It was far from a bad Plan B, given the palazzo’s marbled interiors, rococo ceilings, and stash of rare art, but destination Cruise shows are so intentional with their locations (which are often the heart of the collection’s concept) that it must have been frustrating to be thwarted by weather. This was not a low stakes event or an inconsequential downpour.
Through the palazzo’s marbled halls, Ghesquière unveiled an aquatic collection – one part sci-fi, one part fantasy. Lake Maggiore was supposed to have been the backdrop where one could have imagined the otherworldly Louis Vuitton creatures emerging from water like an army of Neptune’s daughters. One wore a finned neoprene jacket covered in a print of chains not unlike those docking the boats nearby – all that was missing was her trident. Another donned a maroon neoprene short suit with chain pockets, and one wore a look that toed the line of a scuba suits but was fitted with blouson sleeves and jacquard bottoms to bring Ghesquière’s signature eccentricity into the mix. One top was embossed with wave-like ripples and finished with gold anchor buttons, and a few elaborate fishscale skirts glimmered under the light of the palazzo’s chandeliers. A beautiful line-up of sequined dresses peeped from beneath classic coats, while a finale of pastel-washed gowns with hems that resembled the fringed hoop of a lampshade came as an unexpected touch.
Strangely enough, the venue – while not the one originally intended – enhanced the collection in unexpected ways. Its rich interiors complimented the many crowns and masks worn by Ghesquière’s mermaids, making them appear to be deep sea royalty. If they were striding out of the lake into the gardens of Isola Bella, what was their final destination going to be? I’d like to imagine it was always going to be a masquerade ball inside of the palazzo where one of the little mermaids might meet her prince.