The Bob Hope estate in Palm Springs, CA, served as the surprising setting for Louis Vuitton’s Cruise 2016 collection. Although John Lautner designed the home in the late 1970s, it was so cutting-edge at the time that it remains a beacon of modernism in the present day. It was exciting to see Louis Vuitton presented in such serene surroundings, far away from the manic staging in Paris during Fashion Week. In fact, Nicolas Ghesquière didn’t have to employ any creative sets for the Cruise presentation; he simply allowed the anachronistic futurism of the home speak for itself. Clothed in a fusion of futuristic goth garb and prairie dresses, models glided silently around the edges of the outdoor pool, and as the sun set, golden rays lent their magic to the hour.
The collection came down the concrete “catwalk” first in chain-link prints, which were an open nod to the works of Urs Fischer in his “Problem Painting” series. Other versions were shown in various prints or simple fabrics, each held down with leather harnesses that resembled Western bandoliers. The Americana influence on the collection was readily discussed by Ghesquière, who name-checked Robert Altman’s 1977 film “3 Women.” In the film, Shelley Duvall, Sissy Spacek, and Janice Rule were captivating characters in pastel prairie dresses.
In the early stages of America’s development, the Wild West was the new frontier, and the destination that everyone aimed for was California. In a sense, Ghesquière was fusing the old and the new, crafting gorgeous clothes according to styles from the 1870s to the 1970s, but with a contemporary twist. Not only does this theme work for the present day, but the Palm Springs setting helped underscore these notions.
Medieval styles also crept into the proceedings, and left us breathless for more, especially in the case of a full-length black dress with chainmail-like details along the bodice and shoulders. Snakeskin embossed leather dresses with battle wounds cut out of the surface, and leather dresses featuring perforated lace etching carried a hint of warrior woman influence as well. But for all of the past inspirations that informed the collection, there were dozens of looks that were thoroughly out-of-time. Ghesquière also presented quilted and padded outerwear, embroidered tops with blouson sleeves, shrunken hot pants, molded leather jackets, and luxurious textured sweatshirts. To strike an accord between disparate topics and themes and to weave it all into a coherent narrative takes real genius.
Ghesquière’s visionary knack not only placed this inspiring collection in the right setting, at the right time, in front of the right people, but it also comes at a time when Louis Vuitton is poised on the precipice of global takeover, a time when just the name itself is enough to have everyone reaching for their pocketbooks. Yet, his thoughtful approach reminded us of the craftwork and the dedication that goes into every piece, and provided a necessary pause in an industry that moves at lightning pace around the clock.
Photos: Courtesy of Imaxtree