Walking into the courtyard of the Louvre museum after a season dominated by fears of the coronavirus, and yet another day of anti-government protests that snarled traffic in Paris, you were struck by the impervious majesty of the place.
In its eight centuries of existence, the palace has seen its share of coronations and revolutions. Surely, this too shall pass?
The Louis Vuitton show venue was a simple black box with wooden flooring, and the guest list had been reduced by a third due to the coronavirus outbreak. The world’s biggest luxury brand was going sober, it appeared.
It turned out Nicolas Ghesquière has been thinking about history, too. As the show began, a screen lifted to reveal a vast podium filled with 200 characters dressed in costumes spanning five centuries to the front and left, you could distinguish what appeared to be Britain’s Queen Elizabeth I.
He kicked off with a return to his conceptual roots: chunky technical outerwear paired with ruffled leather or tulle skirts in cartoonishly large proportions. He picked up on the graphic elements of the colour-blocked jackets to segue into a couple of motorcycle leather dresses and skirts.
Out tumbled more references: masculine checked and pin-striped suits, shown on androgynous models; Seventies-style leather coats with lush shearling collars and cuffs; vintage-inspired sequined slip dresses.
A gentlemanly waistcoat topped a ruched flight suit, while a garnish matador jacket was slung over a chic grey wool version of biker pants.
“This collection is about sartorial ‘tuning,’” said Ghesquière, referring to the practice of customizing cars. “It’s sort of an anachronic of genres. It can simply be the pleasure of dressing and its many possibilities, free of protocol or constraint.”
Coming in the final slot of the monthlong fashion marathon, Ghesquière’s shows often seem jarringly disconnected from the rest. Viewed from the designer’s perspective, he has to make a bold statement if he doesn’t want to look stale.