Louis Vuitton may be the most powerful luxury brand in the world, but some things are still beyond its control. The weather, for example. On Wednesday May 24, the locomotive of LVMH, whose turnover exceeded 20 billion euros in 2022, organized its cruise parade at Lake Maggiore, in Italy, on the Isola Bella site. This spectacular island, property of the Borromeo family, where twenty-two inhabitants live, and which had never been privatized for such an event, was battered by rain all evening. In itself, nothing is more banal than precipitation in the spring, but it has profoundly upset the plans.
For his cruise shows, the artistic director of the women’s collections, Nicolas Ghesquière, has always chosen places with exceptional architecture. In the past, he has invested in the Bob and Dolores Hope estate, designed by John Lautner in Palm Springs (California), the Contemporary Art Museum of Niteroi (Brazil) by Oscar Niemeyer, the Miho Museum, designed by Ieoh Ming Pei, near Kyoto (Japan), or the Salk Institute in California. This season, he dropped anchor in Italy for the first time, on Isola Bella, “an island whose very evocation is a journey, a lake, a palace, a garden… A fabulous place, the caves paved with mosaics, the statues, the unicorn emblem of the Borromeo family, the terraces, the atrium”explains Nicolas Ghesquière.
The parade was to take place in the garden, a splendid pyramid-shaped ensemble articulated in ten stepped terraces, culminating with a large statue of a unicorn straddled by the god Love. Around this Teatro Massimo, fountains, obelisks and a multitude of 17th century statuese century depicting allegories of the seasons, winds and rivers. A bed of azaleas, chiseled box hedges, espaliers of roses, rhododendrons, grapefruit and orange trees complete this idyllic setting which attracted more than 483,000 visitors in 2022.
The collection was designed to dialogue with the place. Nicolas Ghesquière talks about a “tale without nostalgia, of anticipation of the future. The mystery of the lakes, which we like to imagine are populated by fabulous creatures, a postmodern wyvern, a legendary figure, a kind of freshwater siren who ventures onto dry land to unite with plants.. Faced with a uniformly gray and rain-laden sky, the parade was finally relocated at the last moment to the Palais de l’île, a baroque castle from the 17th century.e absolutely majestic century, but whose golds and old paintings do not exactly offer the ideal setting for the “botanical cruise” dreamed of by Nicolas Ghesquière.
The designer has been faithful to his habits by offering an uncompromising collection, multiplying textile experiments, superpositions, antagonisms, converging in a progression “from the aquatic to the botanical”. Bralettes are printed with water stains, the ruffles of a skirt evoke rows of flippers, Neoprene wetsuits merge with diving outfits.
Dresses like sculptures
Little by little, the marine vocabulary mixes with the baroque, the ornaments intensify with embroidered silk georgette trousers, skirts tangled with large iridescent sequins like fish scales. Dresses with a drape frozen like stone, with XXL volumes, puffy or pointed sleeves like wings evoke sculptures. “A juxtaposition between the familiar and the singular”, summarizes Nicolas Ghesquière. The result, which leans clearly on the side of the singular, would certainly have been better highlighted in the gardens, in the open air, than in the rows of rooms laden with gilding and paintings.
The label had also taken care to record a recording of the parade in the gardens the afternoon before the show, between two showers of rain – we had to start the take four times to have a complete dry sequence. “As soon as the weather gave us twenty minutes of respite, we went for it”, explains Pietro Beccari, Chairman and CEO of Louis Vuitton. Before joining Vuitton in February, the Italian orchestrated the growth of Fendi and Dior, two other claws of the LVMH group. Since his arrival, he has hardly been idle: he hired pop star Pharrell Williams as the artistic director of the men’s collections and accelerated the pace of the parades, with a surprise women’s show on April 29 in Seoul.
Two parades in less than a month, isn’t that excessive? “With 436 million views, the Seoul show is the most watched in Vuitton’s historywelcomes Pietro Beccari. It is an experience that we will repeat. We are a brand of bags, ready-to-wear is new in our history (since 1997). There is market share to be won in this area. » According to him, the parade is the best way to achieve this, because it “tell a story, create a world” around the garment, and it is important to “never stop, always seek innovation, continue to make people travel”.
The CEO is also betting on contrasts with two very different designers: for women, Nicolas Ghesquière, a technician for whom fashion is a textile research laboratory, and for men, Pharrell Williams, a popular music producer, who has always felt the zeitgeist with his songs or during his brief forays into fashion. ” It’s here “dream team”! », says Pietro Beccari. Pharrell Williams, who attended the show, will present his on June 20, the first day of Paris men’s fashion week. We will then see if the alchemy works as expected or if, as with the rain, Vuitton has to rethink its strategy.