Oprah, Cate Blanchett, Emma Stone Attend Ghesquière’s Creative Triumph At Louis Vuitton’s First Italy Show | Jing Daily
Creating a sense of intimacy in a global industry like fashion is no easy feat. Especially when you are the most recognizable luxury fashion label in the world. But Louis Vuitton is more than capable of making grand gestures seem like nimble maneuvers, as Cruise 2024 demonstrates.
On Wednesday, May 24, on the small island of Isola Bella on Lake Maggiore, Italy, the LVMH house showed a collection that moved effortlessly between ancient Italian romanticism, codes (and coats) of armor, nature-inspired maximalism and Creative Director Nicholas Ghesquière’s modernist leanings. It was a sartorial story that show notes argue “gives rise to contemporary tales, populated by drifting creatures that abandon aquatic dwellings for the discovery of terrestrial wonders.”
Nature is often unpredictable, and rainstorms invading once blue skies forced the brand to move the runway indoors, from the spectacular Baroque garden into the gilded rooms of Palazzo Borromeo. The blooms, rare plants and citrus trees would certainly have framed the aquatic-leaning collection exquisitely, as pre-filmed drone videos show.
Towering headdresses and dramatic silhouettes were inspired by both geometric and organic forms of Isola Bella’s gardens, which Marcello Lombardi, head of events, described as “one of the most beautiful in the whole of Italy.”
Sensual aquatic femininity was tempered by tough-girl boots, sneakers and accessories, sporty jersey, neoprene and shiny leathers that nodded to Vuitton-style futurism and functionality. Romantic flourishes came in the form of sculptural sleeves, delightful shimmery hues, mermaid dresses, quilted brocade and big bows that charmed the crowd.
“Cruise has always been Nicholas Ghesquiere’s playground where he kind of experiments the most, because it’s tied to the location,” says prolific fashion influencer, journalist and commentator Susanna Lau (Susie Bubble) post-runway. “And here at Isola Bella, there’s riffing off that Neptune, Poseidon mythology and then taking it through his own lens; I know he loves scuba diving.”
“I really love where he took that theme: the underwater, mermaid, scuba world, but also merged it with historical garments. I just loved the drama of some of the silhouettes, particularly in the finale. Those jellyfish mermaid gowns just moved so beautifully,” she adds.
The brand’s destination Cruise shows have become a highlight of the annual calendar for the fashion jet set. With past locations including Kyoto, Palm Springs and Rio de Janeiro, LV is apt at conjuring dreamlike collections rooted in creative interpretations of heritage, aesthetics, and cultural codes from around the world.
“Cruise, because of that aspect, it’s really where a designer can have that fantasy, dream, mise en scene,” Lau says. “From a business perspective, it makes sense to take clients on these experiences, trips to encourage their spending and loyalty.”
The return of Chinese VICs, media outlets, influencers and celebrities like Elaine Zhong and Victoria Song, as well as Asian stars popular in China, meant that Vuitton was able to establish a closeness to the China market that was lacking during the years of pandemic-induced travel restrictions.
Even with seemingly endless resources available to the LVMH’s crown jewel, constant innovation is needed to keep things feeling fresh and relevant in the fickle world of fashion. These shows are part of how to keep the energy and hype alive, season after season. The tedium of packed schedules at main fashion weeks can be exhausting, whereas Cruise allows for aesthetic immersion with one brand for a few days.
In the era of an attention economy, time is, arguably, our biggest luxury.
“On quite a few levels, these Cruise shows have become essential to the brand building, storytelling and loyalty aspect,” adds Lau.
Basking in the glow of a history-making €400 billion valuation, LVMH has much cause for celebration, despite signs of sluggish American consumption now causing some concern. Louis Vuitton’s recent power moves — an executive reshuffle, a lauded Yayoi Kusama collab and multi-hyphenate Pharrell Williams helming menswear — show plenty of confidence.
However, as collections like Cruise 2024 show, Ghesquière’s consistent conviction and vision continue to anchor LV’s fashion offerings as a stabilizing force under the waxes and wanes of hype. Not afraid to refresh, revive or reflect, he argues that, at least at this French maison, romance is still cool and very much at the heart of fashion.
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