Louis Vuitton by Nicolas Ghesquière, Resort 2016, 2015
The Resort season has turned into a mini architecture tour. Karl Lagerfeld set up Chanel operations at Zaha Hadid’s Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul on Monday. Raf Simons will show Dior at Pierre Cardin’s south of France home next week. And today Louis Vuitton had over 800 rooms booked in Palm Springs, California, for the celebrities, international journalists, and clients that assembled here to witness Nicolas Ghesquière’s latest LV collection at the Bob Hope estate. The designer first laid eyes on the Bob Hope house 15 years ago on his earliest trip to this desert city; it made a lasting impression. Driving up to the place this evening, it was easy to understand why. The John Lautner-designed house (which is for sale, by the way, with an asking price of $25 million) is perched on one of Palm Springs’ central peaks. The views of the valley below are breathtaking, but the house itself is a scene-stealer, a hulking 23,000-square-foot marvel that, depending on the vantage point, looks like a grounded spaceship or a volcano but is decorated on the inside in what Ghesquière described as a sweet ’50s style. “The paradox of the brutalism of the architecture and the refinement of the interior was quite inspiring to me,” he said. “I love the idea of sweet and hard at the same time.”
That idea played out in the clothes. But first, a word about the setup, which was choreographed down to the minute. As the 500-odd guests milled around on the lawn, the gong that rings at the Fondation Louis Vuitton could be heard, establishing a connection between Paris and Palm Springs. A drone hovered overhead, capturing footage for the live-stream. And the 6:15-on-the-dot start time capitalized on the magic hour light before the sun dipped below the mountains behind the house. Plywood and Plexiglas stools were arrayed on the terrace below the swooping copper roof, and as the models began their exits, they could be seen walking across the house’s second floor and descending the staircase through well-placed windows. They circled the pool before making a circuitous path in front of a crowd that included Kanye West, Catherine Deneuve, Michelle Williams, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Grimes.
The lineup’s big news was its silhouette. Ghesquière set the current trend for A-line miniskirts in motion with his first Vuitton show 14 months ago, a fact he’s no doubt aware of. He pivoted here, sending out maxi skirts on desert boots paired with blousy cropped tops crisscrossed by leather belts that exposed a triangle of midriff. It was a directional look that had just a touch of the 1930s Hollywood starlet to it. From there, he was off and running, alternating printed and quilted silk housecoats like something a Palm Springs granny would wear with leather motocross jackets that inevitably called to mind the upcoming reboot of Mad Max. A black-tie-ready beaded scuba jacket and sporty, tailored trousers intermingled with printed eyelet prairie dresses that he suggested nodded in the direction of Altman’s classic 3 Women. And then there were the hot pants, cut high on the thigh and worn with everything from an army sweater to zip-front silk blouses to a boxy suede jacket.
Ghesquière has spent his first year and change at the brand developing his signatures, and despite the far-ranging feel of this show, he didn’t abandon them here. The oversized front zips he’s used from season one reappeared, as did the suede color-blocking and the metal studding. As usual, he made the most of the house’s leather know-how, cutting the maxi skirts in a leather so liquid it could be mistaken for silk, choosing a sturdier weight for a dress that he embellished with the four-pointed fleurs of Vuitton’s iconic monogram, and, most spectacularly, embroidering glossy swatches of the stuff in a snakeskin motif on a long, lean column of body mesh. As strategic as he remains, the collection’s lasting impression was its uninhibited sense of play; and the reaction was unanimous, this was Ghesquière at his most Ghesquière: experimental and unconstrained. California suits him.
Written by Nicole Phelps,