Introducing The Focal Point, a recurring feature that will review specific fashion collections.
Leave it to Nicolas Ghesquiere, ex-Balenciaga wunderkind, to have me suddenly coveting Louis Vuitton, lusting after the redesigned LV symbol (now in a fatter, millennial-friendly iteration, evoking the bubble letters of yore) like it’d be capable of transforming my life by sheer association. I’m not alone, apparently, as other bloggers have already taken to the recently debuted cruise collection by storm—some so much so that they seem to have forgotten how to string sentences together with, well, any sense.
To wit, Buro 24/7 describes the collection obliquely as exploring “pseudo-paradoxical juxtapositions.” I’ve taken enough college courses with attention-hungry students to know that that makes zero sense and applies not at all to this collection, reminding me that sometimes fashion writing just tries too damn hard, and entirely misses the mark. But let’s not get caught up in the linguistic failings of the Internet, because that’s an animal better-left unconscious.
The lookbook for the collection—released Saturday about an hour after the show took place in Monte Carlo—pairs images from the Monaco landscape with those of fresh-faced models in spunky prints and shapes that evoke the late Sixties—if the Sixties had Wifi. Aptly titled “The Trip,” snapshots of a blurry highway, flowers asserting themselves unexpectedly between rock crevices, and endless succulents are teamed up with the collection images in a way that feels intentional, rather than random. Someone spent a lot of time deciding what went where, and with great result. The Juergen Teller-shot images play off each other wonderfully, evoking something you might call stylized nature—the natural world, with a little boost: a filter for the photos, perhaps—or in the case of the plain-faced models (done up to look undone), draped in bright embroidery and the shiniest of leathers. Colors are matched subtly between the images, and it’s easy to imagine your grade school art teacher drawing a triangle between the burnt reds or forest greens to help us pinpoint why it’s all working so well.
Click the images to enlarge.
Ghesquiere knows what he’s doing—there’s a confidence in his work that manages not to border on cocky. It’s not feisty or attention seeking like much of Alexander Wang’s namesake label, whose clothes often read like the sartorial equivalent of Cara Delevingne. It’s also not easy to put him in one camp, like the wearable futurism we always see in designs from Proenza, or the sleek minimalism churned out repeatedly by Calvin Klein. His work here is happily not ageist either, as everything on display could look equally at home on a twenty-five year old as it could on someone forty years her senior.
Of course—this being Louis Vuitton—there are plenty of accessory sightings for our perusal (and, as the LV team surely hopes, eventual purchasing), but they manage to blend into the scene without betraying the reality of their cash-cow placement. This is nice, because while fashion may boil down to commerce, it’s fun to pretend, for the length of a lookbook at least, that it’s an art produced simply for our inspirational consumption.
And inspiration is certainly what we get—if not also a reformulation of our entire sartorial mindsets, as in my case. Femininity, too, is prevalent here, but in a way that might be conjured by a woman herself, rather than the often-discriminating eyes of the male gaze. And that gaze can feel uneasy regardless of said-man’s romantic preferences. Whereas the stereotype for what straight men prefer is one of overblown-sexuality, I often feel that the designs of their gay counterparts end up stripping women entirely of, well, that which makes them women. And, no, no—this is not to say that they are ALL the same (them, being straight men or gay), but if you sift through fashion imagery, these recurring viewpoints are pretty difficult to deny—which is why Ghesquiere’s work is so refreshing.
His vision expertly merges both of these worlds in that very specific, hard-to-achieve way that a lot of women I know seem constantly to be seeking. That is, an interplay between sexless androgyny and overt femininity, the through line between those extremes. It’s a place in which clothes don’t define us, but lend us just enough to work with in defining ourselves.