Collections Spotlight: Nicolas Ghesquière Celebrates His 10th Anniversary At Louis Vuitton

At Louis Vuitton, Nicolas Ghesquière’s oeuvre is the most important element of how the luxury maison keeps its lustre
Photo: Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

On 5 March 2014, Nicolas Ghesquière presented his first collection for Louis Vuitton at the Louvre. This season, Ghesquière, who turns 53 this month, celebrates a decade at Vuitton and marks his 10th anniversary as the artistic director for its women’s collections with triumph. This is no small achievement in any industry, and is especially notable in an industry known for its hiring whims and disloyalties.

Nicolas Ghesquière’s 10th anniversary show for Louis Vuitton featured his design signatures, such as unexpected contrasts. This blazer (above) is crafted from sequin-embroidered silk, resulting in a fluid silhouette.

Ghesquière is known for his innovative designs and a forward-thinking approach to fashion—and his time at Vuitton has simply allowed this talent to flower into some of the most iconoclastic collections that define our times. His talent for modernity is given a powerful boost by the innovative, high quality and state of the art materials and craftsmanship afforded by one of the world’s foremost luxury houses, made available for his expression.

Ghesquière actually began his career at Balenciaga in the late 1990s, initially working in various roles before being appointed creative director in 1997 as a stripling of 25. Under his direction, Balenciaga experienced a revival, and his tenure at the house revealed his ability to blend tradition with futurism. His sculptural silhouettes, architectural designs, and technical fabrics garnered critical acclaim and a cult following among celebrities and fashion insiders. His innovative use of materials show for Louis Vuitton and construction techniques pushed the boundaries of fashion, setting new standards for avant-garde design.

In 2013, Ghesquière was appointed creative director of Louis Vuitton, succeeding Marc Jacobs. His appointment was highly anticipated, and he brought with him his signature aesthetic to one of the most iconic of luxury brands in the world. With the Spring 2024 season at Louis Vuitton, Ghesquière continues to infuse the brand with his modern sensibility, while honouring its heritage.

Having shaped Louis Vuitton’s womenswear for over a decade, this latest collection vrooms with confidence, clearly expressing his design language and genius. The boldly simple silhouettes retrace Nicolas Ghesquière’s ten-year journey with Vuitton, as well as his unique aesthetics. Fusing an exploration of technical possibilities to the romance of the past, the collection is at once nostalgic, and yet futuristic: It references the New Romantics movement of the early ’80s, giving it poetry and emotion, and yet in its modern interpretation, the movement and briskness of the future. One of Ghesquière’s recurring motifs is the clashing of time periods, but his high-level design upcycling showed that he isn’t stuck in nostalgia, but instead guides the romance of the past into the future.

Ghesquière nodded to one of his favourite decades, the ‘80s, through a line-up of oversized padded jackets in satin. Photo: Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

Structured coats, which come from riding jackets, some featuring brass-band regalia, had extra-bold shoulders, studded double-breast, and glitter; Illusion and innovation meld together in tweed-like bouclé fabric made from technical fibre; These were worn with high-waisted tapered pants and pencil minis, which come straight out of 1982—exactly what Sheena Easton would have worn to belt out Morning Train.

The ’80s was an era of strong women, and YSL’s Opium was the perfume of the day. A passage of oversized padded jackets in satin (which somehow manage to get a whiff of the Oriental in—it could possibly be the porcelain sheen) introduced new proportions with the maxi jackets paired with pleated miniskirts. Despite the retro inspiration, the functionality, and the modernity makes Ghesquière’s designs feel empowering and his woman strong.

Another thread is the poetry and flutter of ruffled double-layer skirts in silk chiffon, and cowled silk blouses in silk charmeuse, with huge hip slung belts (in solid, monogram and checkerboard) —these felt like the New Romantics all over again. It was Boy George and Duran Duran and the beginning of the aesthetic that defied gender conventions. A striking and convincing androgyny has always been part of Ghesquière’s vision with a “is- she-isn’t-he” fluidity. It is worth noting that Ghesquière has made the South Korean idol Felix, of the band Stray Kids, into a muse and friend of the brand’s womenswear (Felix made his official runway debut walking for the French luxury label in March this year). Ghesquière had discovered Felix at Vuitton’s pre-fall collection presentation in Seoul, and it was instant inspiration and muse- hood for the androgynous Felix, who has freckles, an epicene beauty, and an audacious, gender-fluid style.

In Ghesquière’s expression, this revision of gender never descends into camp or drag. The Louis Vuitton woman strides out in complete confidence, hands in the pockets of their coats, free to be whatever she is. Androgyny is in the leather bomber jackets and the varsity blouson, which have become his signature, executed here in oversized ultra-soft lambskin, rendered boldly athletic, and styled with flowy-fluid skirts. Androgyny is also in the design of the Alma 130 handbag, in celebration of the Alma Bag’s 90th anniversary, reimagined in an ultra-supple version, adorned with LV rivets.

The designer’s architectural tendencies were on display with sculpted evening dresses, which combined Grecian-inspired draping with deconstructed tailoring in a sophisticated and elevated way. This is yet another expression, in which the designs showed modernity. The glittery embroidery here is entirely done by hand, showcasing the maison’s excellent savoir faire, but under Ghesquière’s vision, never feels like decadent embellishment, but a necessary glamour.

Throughout his career, Ghesquière has received numerous awards and accolades for his contributions to the fashion industry, including for his work for Vuitton, such as the British Fashion Awards’ International Designer of the Year (2014), Accessories Designer of the Year (2016), as well as Time 100 Most Influential People (2019). These milestones represent the highlights in Ghesquière’s fashion career. He has been praised for his visionary approach to design and his ability to create and shape fashion trends. His designs for Vuitton, a historic luxury house founded in 1854, are a firm celebrity favourite (Emma Stone and Zendaya often wear Vuitton) and are prevalent on the red carpet. His collections play a crucial role in shaping and reinforcing the brand’s identity and aesthetic in a cohesive way, imbuing the signature motifs, such as the monogram or Damier check, to create a sense of continuity and unity across its product categories. Vuitton’s fashion influence extends beyond the runway, and often serves as a source of inspiration for other designers, which show Ghesquière’s impact on the industry, and cements his reputation as one of the most innovative designers of our times.

This story first appeared in the May issue of GRAZIA Singapore.


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