NICOLAS GHESQUIÈRE’S inaugural collection for Louis Vuitton had all the fashion expectation of waking up on Christmas day, excitement brewing ever since black leather wallet invitations had started to arrive in Paris last week.
And it’s something that Ghesquière knew too – welcoming us to the show with a typed-up note on each seat that expressed his joy and anticipation of sharing with us his first collection since being appointed in November last year. “Today is a new day. A big day,” he wrote, going onto salute Marc Jacobs, his Louis Vuitton predecessor, the man who introduced ready-to-wear to the house and made its bags cult items to own, the man who essentially put it on the map. That might be a big act to follow, but so was Ghesquière at Balenciaga, where he’d worked to define the house with his own codes for the past 15 years.
Acknowledgements and thanks in place, this, then, felt very much like a fresh start and indeed a new day at the house of Vuitton (poignantly illustrated as the industrial blinds of the Cour Carree du Louvre show space were raised and a flood of bright natural daylight flooded the catwalk). With no archives as such to plunder, Ghesquière had a freedom to make it his own – and he very much did.
It was sharp, glossy and modern as we expect from Ghesquière, all those little nuances and slick stylistic details we knew of him at Balenciaga here at play: cropped proportions up top for little shrunken jumpers tucked into twisted belts on tight trousers that nipped in at the waist and then tightly clung to the leg all the way down; and short stiff A-line glossy or quilted skirts for that sense of sci-fi futurism that he does so well.
He focused mostly on an inverted silhouette, occasionally wavering for empire lines and babydoll styles for a nod to the Seventies that continued in the colour palette (of maroon, mustard, black, blue and varying shades of brown) and then on to little natty jackets whose collars were razor sharp, or waistcoats too.
There was a buoyancy in dresses whose focus was on the shoulder, a fluted frill held in place by a black panel across the chest – the same lightness could be found in skirts that unravelled from a knitted waistline and then down into feathered segments.
It felt understated, young, contemporary and relevant – these clothes would all look great on Charlotte Gainsbourg, his great friend, who was there alongside Catherine Deneuve.
And of course there were accessories to covet. There couldn’t not be. Here we had curve-heeled booties in red, black and brown leathers, some boasting the LV logo, while little box bags riffed on the luggage heritage of the house, incarnated as mini trunks. Elsewhere it was little bowling bags and logo-ed clutches scrunched like bows that did the job.
“Thanks to all of you who have helped me to tell this new story,” rounded off Ghesquière’s note – his successful new chapter has begun.