Nicolas Ghesquiere’s vision of Louis Vuitton that closed Paris Fashion Week was pure fashion and perfectly reflects the times we live in. Louis Vuitton’s last fashion show was before Covid closed everything down 18 months ago. This collection was a triumphant bookend to the lockdown. Extinction Rebellion’s activist stormed the runway with a banner that read Overconsumption = Extinction. Hers was the only voice of dissension in the gloomy Passage Richelieu at the Louvre. Ghesquiere’s Spring 2022 proposal was met with approval by fashion’s elite.
Despite all the hype surrounding digital, it is evident that fashion shows are still visually stunning. After a year and half of virtual presentations, online look books, runways with dolls a La Moschino or shows in boxes a La JW Anderson, the consensus is that nothing can compare to the real thing. The audience’s reaction, the emotional connection, the expression of craft and artistry on gorgeous models for an audience of living breathing appreciators is the only way to know. Anna Wintour compared going to a fashion show with attending live theatre.
Ghesquiere is a designer who performs theater like a master. This collection features dresses with beaded panniers and oversized frock coats inspired by Empress Eugenie, Marie Antoinette and Paul Poiret.
The Louis Vuitton Show might not be a surprise to those who thought the pandemic would force us to rethink fashion in new ways. The extravagant, impractical clothes were displayed to great acclaim by a select few. Susie Lau uploaded a video to Instagram from the front row, where she can be heard cheering on Bryanboy and exchanging chants with him as he took his bow and sang “Nicolas Ghesquiere until I die”.
The live performance was enhanced by the addition of the eco-warrior gatecrasher, which she couldn’t do via Zoom. Is the Louis Vuitton Show the best place to protest? Although she expected to create a lot of publicity, will this actually make a difference? Will it spark real conversations or change the status quo? She said that LVMH was chosen symbolically as it is the parent company to Louis Vuitton.
Nicolas Ghesquiere is a creative person who is passionate about sustainability
According to the press release, Ghesquiere’s “muse” is a figure who “travels through the ages adapting to the dress codes of each era.” However, this could also be used to describe the designer and his fashion approach. Collectors are in high demand for the Garments Ghesquiere made 20 years ago, when he relaunched Balenciaga. His 2003 striped fencing top is listed on 1stdibs for 6500 dollars, while his 2002 patchwork dresses are listed at tens to thousands. Vogue calls the 12 year-old items “the ultimate, mysterious must-haves.” Ghesquiere explained to Vanessa Friedman of The New York Times that his old creations are being worn alongside his new ones. They come from two different houses but were made by the same person. “I encourage this circulation,” Ghesquiere said. He also stated that rewearing vintage items is a chic way to own fashion today.
The “living archives” can be used to merge vintage Vuitton pieces with new pieces. He said that he sees a real opportunity there and also mentioned customization and inventory control as key strategies to help create with responsibility. Designers should not offer ridiculous discounts halfway through the season, which can make customers question the original value of the garments.
This could be seen as a return of exclusivity, elevating clothes to art form, right when we were already praising how democratic fashion was. Anna Wintour said that the number of young designers who presented during New York Fashion Week for spring is evidence of the ongoing democratization in fashion.
Retail’s three Rs
To encourage consumers to see fashion purchases as investments and collectibles, the three R’s are resale rental and restoration services. Brick and mortar stores like Selfridges and online retailers like Farfetch figure pre-owned and vintage into their businesses and WWD announced in July that Valentino is forging relationships with the top vintage retailers globally for a project to be revealed that is designed “to create a cycle of loyalty and added service to its customers.”
There is no denying that the fashion industry still has a lot of work ahead of it to reduce its global emissions, implement circularity, design timeless pieces that can be passed down through generations and to produce less. Jose Neves is the founder and CEO Farfetch luxury retailer. He responded to Wintour and Ghesquiere’s points. “Fashion is part and parcel of civilization. Fashion is part culture. Fashion is not a second-class citizen as some believe. Some people believe it isn’t a part of culture but just an industry.”
Maybe that’s the key takeaway. Read the room, fellow sustainably-minded. You might be off-target if you gatecrashe a fashion show at a 167-year old maison that is built on excellence in craft, history, spectacle and fashion design. The noise you create is distracting from the fact that those who have something to say are being heard. Maybe you want to make some live theater after working hard for 18 months.