Leave it to Nicolas Ghesquière and Louis Vuitton to deliver the virtual reality experience we’ve been waiting for all season long. When the gravity of the pandemic started to sink in earlier this year, the industry scrambled to come up with digital solutions for audience members prohibited from traveling. This month we’ve watched countless taped videos and livestreams, but none of them featured the kind of interactivity that even a Zoom call brings.
Today’s LV show, the last on the official calendar, upped the stakes. Interspersed among the live audience in the freshly remodeled-by-LVMH La Samaritaine department store were 360-degree cameras that allowed viewers at home to swivel in their chairs, watch models coming and going, and see who did and didn’t score a better seat. It was almost like being there.
“This season is very new in every way,” Ghesquière said days before the show. “The conditions that we’re facing are making us think differently. We came up with the idea of different degrees of presence.” In addition to the 360-degree cameras, green screens lined the walls and, in some places, the floors of La Samaritaine. Viewers of the livestream—the third way to watch and hear the show (there were live mics)—saw footage from Wim Wenders’s famous film Wings of Desire.
Beyond the ’80s-ish silhouettes that have long been a touchpoint for the designer, the connection between the Wenders movie and Ghesquière’s collection, was angels, which have two wings, but no gender. “My question this season was less about one theme; it was about this zone between femininity and masculinity,” he explained. “This zone is highlighted by nonbinary people, people that are taking a lot of freedom dressing themselves as they want, and, in turn, giving a lot of freedom to all of us. I found it inspiring to explore what the items are that represent this wardrobe that is not feminine, not masculine. I wanted to zoom in on that section in between.”
The show began with a look that combined a timely Vote tee (his absent American friends appreciated that) and baggy pleated chino pants cinched with a thick belt. It was emblematic of a collection that felt more spontaneous and street-ready than some of Ghesquière’s more recherché outings at LV. The duster coat, minidress, and trainer combo looked cool and true-to-life. Ditto the lapel-less suits in khaki or silver sequins, which were also worn with sneakers.
That’s not to say some of these clothes weren’t worked. The straight-up skater tees that he opened with were spliced and diced into elaborate techno patchworks by the end. Less obvious on camera were the expandable jackets, built with panels that can be worn in a fitted way for a feminine silhouette, or loosened for a more generous cut. Pants, too, were designed with excess fabric to shape-shift.
Amidst the lockdowns, many wondered how the world-changing pandemic would affect not just the shows, but also clothes themselves. The short-term answer from this first ready-to-wear season back after quarantine is…not much. But the industry’s most forward thinkers—Ghesquière included—are rallying around the concept of genderless clothes. “I don’t know how the situation will change fashion and people’s perception of it,” Ghesquière added. “What I think is there is an acceleration in important subjects, like inclusivity.” Maybe it goes back to what he was saying about freedom; that’s certainly a sensation we’re all craving more of.