It turns out that the iconic intertwined initials “LV” didn’t start out intertwined at all. The original logo that Monsieur Vuitton initially chose for his steam trunks were the two initials encased in a circle, an idea that Nicolas Ghesquiere, who has been designing for Vuitton since last year, decided to reprise once he found the original logo while skulking around the archives.
At one point or another in our life, most of us have either owned a real or fake Luis Vuitton bag, so enduring is the brand. It’s that enduring quality that drew me to an exhibition the Fondation Vuitton mounted here in L.A., Series 2, supposedly a walk inside the creative process Nicolas Ghesquiere followed to create the SS15 pret-a-porter collection.
The refracting mirrors, the disco lights and an Eddie Redmayne’s talking head informing me I was sitting in a space that didn’t yet exist, didn’t do much to enlighten me on how this particular creative spark came about but they succeeded in fostering a sense of disorientation and drunkenness at 10 in the morning. No matter. There was much more to discover once I made it into the glaringly white rooms that contained accessories new and old.
“I have always loved creating accessories. For me, they are always connected to the collection, they hold an integral place in the creation of an ensemble, either juxtaposing or completing an outfit. They take on the same intentions and have the same aim as the clothes. A silhouette is a complete look.” Nicolas Ghesquiere
Words that my mother instilled in me, maybe not so eloquently, very many moons ago: there is little point in wearing something fabulous if the shoes/handbag/belt or jewellery don’t complement it properly.
Luis Vuitton Malletier was founded in 1854 with the aim to make steam trunks, and their wild success sprang from the invention of the stackable trunk. Up until then, all trunks were rounded, mainly to prevent water from pooling but, once their bottoms and tops were flattened, voila, it made it all much easier to stack them and drag them around the world.
They were luxury items right from the start – here is the custom-made shoe trunk Greta Garbo had commissioned.
And everything Luis Vuitton makes remains a luxury item: patterns on all leather/plastic goods are still cut by hand; trunks are made by hand and the haute couture is painstakingly cut, sewn and embroidered by expert hands.
The last room of the exhibition consisted of a mock-up backstage of a fashion show and that is where one could come up close and personal with some items from the new collection (albeit in sizes not really found in normal human bodies).
Most of the breezy and upbeat clothes were takes on shifts and tunics, which I happen to adore because they are so versatile. At 20 or 30 they can be worn as mini-dresses but now I can pair them with pencil skirts, skinny jeans or pants with the same success. Here is my favourite:
Among the cast of famous faces Nicolas Ghesquiere chose for the print campaign, I was glad to see French actress Catherine Deneuve, whose red dress with leather inserts (very short in the original collection) has been lengthened to suit her figure and her age.
All photos copyright C&S