Louis Vuitton: Giant gestures

The video projection of a flame-haired singer with a powerful voice mesmerised the audience at the Louis Vuitton show that closed the Paris Spring/Summer 2020 season.

A mighty head was blown up to the width of the vast show area inside the Paris Louvre. This presentation by transgender Scottish artist Sophie was typical of Vuitton: monumental.

Below the image of the performer, telling the audience that ‘It’s Okay to Cry’, was a small door, out of which the models appeared, Alice in Wonderland style, crisscrossing the open runway. It was like looking down from high above at the ant-like movement of people.

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It says something for Vuitton designer Nicolas Ghesquière that he managed in the circumstances to get some fashion message across. It was primarily about colour: fresh turquoise, buttercup yellow, deep purple and a burnt orange dress with a painterly effect of blazing fire. There was a sense of intricate effect on these small garments that mostly ended well above the knee.

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The impression was not of superhero futurism, which, long ago, was a Ghesquière thing when he was at Balenciaga. Instead, it was a courtly presentation of what the show notes defined as “circling back to the pleasures of sartorial protocol”.

So intense colour with flower patterns from the late-18th and early-19th centuries made a strong impact. They were reminiscent of other details from the past that the designer makes relevant for today, such as the little Cattleya orchid beloved by Marcel Proust and associated in France with his writings (above).

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“Harking back to the fundamentals of romanticism and transposing Art Nouveau into clothing,” was the designer’s vision.

There was a great deal to grasp – not least the information that the wooden seating for the show would be donated to be reused. The event seemed to be filled with giant gestures, countered by an apologetic follow-up.

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For whatever the depth and intelligence of Ghesquière’s work at Louis Vuitton over six years, and the brand’s international reach, it is all about accessories, and especially those famous bags. They were taking part but seemed from a distance so small to be almost insignificant. Yet, close up, Ghesquière had made the bags like video cassettes. The shoes had more visibility with the short skirts, even if shapely trousers and knee-high socks took away the footwear flourish.

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Ghesquière is a designer with a deep knowledge of high fashion and its history. But Vuitton seems now entirely of itself with no great influence on the rest of the fashion world. Just some genuinely beautiful clothes. And handbags.

Miu Miu: On-message and in florals

After a Prada show in Milan that seemed to take its founder back to the essence of what the main label stands for, the Miu Miu show was different, although also clean and un-fussy. It was apparently for those very young women who have grown up a little.

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“But I have to say that when I do Miu Miu it just has more spirit, more lightness – and there is a lot of enthusiasm,” said the self-styled “Mrs Prada”, for whom the design apple never falls far from the family tree. nature seemed to be at the heart of the show, with childlike flowers making flat patterns on a sleeveless coat trimmed with fluffy white Mongolian wool. Or an orchid, unfolding its petals, laying flat on the chest.

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The designer always has a focus and this show followed her overall concept of structured clothes, the message re-enforced by ‘stone’ pillars – enveloped in chipboard. But there was also a counterplay to the basics in the idea that these young women, with their post-war styled make-up and hair, were making a personal effort to look sweet and sexy.

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With fashion focus moving back to the ‘make-do and mend’ era of the 1940s, Prada seemed right on-message with its soft, cropped cardigans, as though they were old friends, worn again.

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Miu Miu was not backwards-looking. The idea of decoration with those flowers or other pieces was ingenious. Miuccia Prada seems to make a rigorous effort for Miu Miu to be different and original: Prada in spirit but slightly skewed. Most of the fashion houses still producing different lines have faded away. Not so with the force of Miuccia Prada and her quirky vision.