Like blistered white sycamore bark juxtaposed against a verdant forest, the Miho Museum in Kyoto is a startling tribute to Japan’s culture of conservation, design excellence, and mastery over and appreciation of nature. Jutting from a lush landscape, the “bones” of the museum’s overpass are a literal and figurative bridge between man and nature – paradoxically an organic piece of the scenery and an inorganic, architectural other.
The dual nature of Miho served as inspiration for Louis Vuitton’s Cruise 2018 collection, which took place at the museum and explored the relationship between urbanity, modernity, futurism, and Japan’s spectacular outdoors. In a statement to the press, Nicolas Ghesquière expressed his deep respect, saying, “Japan is a country I know well. It was one of the first places I traveled to when I was seeking inspiration, some twenty years ago, and I’ve been a regular visitor ever since. This collection is like a combination of what Japan has given to me for a very long time.”
Not only did Louis Vuitton’s Cruise 2018 collection echo the landscapes of Japan, but it also paid tribute to samurai outfits, martial arts like keikogi, and ceremonial dress. These themes appeared on pantsuits and tunics, etched with prints that mimicked the artistic renderings of Katsushika Hokusai, a ukiyo-e painter whose print, The Great Wave of Kanagawa, you are sure to recognize. This artistic element reflected Japan’s forests, mountains, and surrounding ocean.
Meanwhile, modernity was found in the collection’s many coruscated surfaces, which glittered with dense embellishment done in the style of Kabuki masks, or on long deep-V tunic dresses that resembled glamorous armor. Woven chain links formed vests and tabards, while other color-blocked looks were capped with studded shoulder accents – both elements supporting the armor motif.
In this collection, Ghesquière returns to a familiar form from his Balenciaga days, reviving the architectural, somewhat-bulky, slope-shouldered silhouette for minimal tuxedo jackets. For all of the radical tops, dresses, and outerwear in the collection, the bottom portion was rather casual, comprised of shorts, jeans, and skinny trousers in shots of jade or in patterned flannel wool. The high/low pairings made an argument for the collection’s functionality and versatility, which is a surprising notion considering just how futuristic the outlook felt.