Louis Vuitton cruise 2018: Nicolas Ghesquière marries the old and new, and collaborates with David Bowie's costume designer


Text: Andrea Sim

What: Louis Vuitton cruise 2018 show
Where: Miho Museum, Kyoto, Japan
When: 4:15pm Singapore time on 14 May 2017

The push and pull of heritage and modernity is a dilemma of the 21st century. Do the traditional and contemporary belong in mutually exclusive equations? Does the latter represent a divisive force that threatens to erode history as we push forward, innovate, and digitalise our processes and experiences? These questions much pondered upon and debated across culture and art domains, and Louis Vuitton's Nicolas Ghesquière has always been amongst fashion's thinkers and doers in this respect. As the designer constantly borrows from the past — as many of his comrades do — to colour his latest creations, Ghesquière's signature is incomplete without an element of the hyper-modern; see fall 2016's Atlantis-inspired show set juxtaposing his vision of a "digital heroine" dressed for an expedition.

For the house's cruise 2018 collection, the destination was the journey. Erected in the '90s, Kyoto's Miho Museum is literally built into a mountain, designed to protrude out the peak while the bulk of its body is housed within mother nature. It plays the character of Ghesquière's 'old' that has very well existed since the beginning of time. Complementing that was his tribute to Japanese culture, where tales of Samurais and theatrical dress surfaced in his designs. Behold: Kabuki faces (also inspiring the models' makeup) splashed across dresses (look 29) and bags (look 38); quintessential Japanese landscape imagery printed and embroidered upon tunics, skirts, jackets and trousers (looks 8, 10, 11 & 34); and sombre black ensembles tinged with the brilliance of gold — just like the outfits worn by actors who practiced the art of Japanese Noh theatre, an artistry that dates back to the 1300s (looks 43, 45 & 48). 

But it wasn't just the undisputed beauty of a classical Japan that lent itself to cruise 2018. Designer Kansaï Yamamoto — most recognised for his costumes for the late David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust — worked with Louis Vuitton on imagery. True to Yamamoto's modus operandi, looks 29, 30 and 51 are probably a result of the tie-up. Although, it is the exagerrated shapes of a series of blazers (looks 49 to 51) that call to mind Stardust's most infamous outfit by Yamamoto. 

As for Ghesquière's explicit narrative on modernity? We return full circle at the show location. The Miho Museum's industrial glass, steel exterior and prism-like ceilings obviously a wonder of contemporary architecture. One that's also a sobering backdrop to the designer's kaleidoscopic tale of storied Japan. 


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