Nicolas Ghesquière and his collaborators set a new bar at this season’s Louis Vuitton show. Inspired by the theme of the upcoming Costume Institute exhibition, About Time: Fashion and Duration, of which Louis Vuitton is a sponsor, Ghesquière enlisted costume designer Milena Canonero, stage director Francisco Negrin, and set designer Es Devlin (who is also designing the About Time exhibition) to create a living backdrop. Together they create a wardrobe for a chorus of 200 in costumes spanning five centuries, and arranged them on a grandstand from which they peered down at the models and audience. “I wanted to imagine what could happen if the past could look at us,” Ghesquière told.
The past witnessed a Ghesquière collection built, as ever, on fabulous anachronisms—jewel-encrusted boleros teamed with motocross pants being one supercharged example, and anoraks worn with petticoats being another. Ghesquière has an uncanny ability for creating novelty from the familiar, and for elevating the unassuming everyday with exquisite details courtesy of the impressive Vuitton ateliers. Times collided, a feeling made all the more resonant by the fact that the chorus performed a piece composed by Woodkid and Bryce Dessner, which sampled from the work of Bach contemporary Nicolas de Grigny.
Andrew Bolton, the Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of the Met’s Costume Institute, has said that the upcoming exhibit was inspired by the writings of Charles Baudelaire and Henri Bergson, but William Faulkner seems apt here: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”