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Louis Vuitton Runway SS16 Nicolas Ghesquiere
Louis Vuitton SS16Photography Virginie Khateeb

Louis Vuitton go cyber with virtual reality inspired show

With Nasa projections and manga inspirations, Nicolas Ghesquière hurtles into the future

“Let’s go wherever you want to go… build anything you want. Build your own little community. Protect yourself with the strongest armour. Nobody can tell you what you can or cannot do. With no rules to follow, this adventure begins now.” Accompanied by a video of a person trying on Oculus Rift virtual reality glasses, this generic voiceover from the trailer of Minecraft was the perfect way of inducting us into another Louis Vuitton voyage with Nicolas Ghesquière. This time around, the journey was a virtual one, based on pixels and data connections – perhaps it existed only in the mind. 

That doesn’t make it any less real, though. “We’re all confronted by the digital world in a good way and we’re influenced by cyber, influenced by the images that make us a dream or judge,” said Ghesquière backstage after the show. “But at the same time we have this real life. And we’re all managing to have this real dimension. And that’s exciting. It’s a real reality influenced by the virtual world.” 

This multi-sensory virtual reality was amplified by blinking banks of sound systems with strips of video projections of Nasa flight reactors and whirring lines in the backdrop that befitted the grounded sci-fi collection. With references such as Wong Kar Wai’s 2046 and My Blueberry Nights, Korean actress Doona Bae (currently starring in the sci-fi Netflix series Sense8) and the classic Japanese manga/anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, it felt like a reaction to his own 1970s-inflected beginnings at the house (which has bled into so many other collections).

“I was thinking about this digital frontier, which I wanted to combine in harmony with the world of Louis Vuitton...It’s an evocation of cyber, of what comes from digital” – Nicolas Ghesquière

The collection sent us hurtling towards an unknown future, clothed in vaguely familiar garments that happen to be fabricated in oddly fascinating and innovative ways. Take the “gel induction” embroideries that looked like liquid pixels. Or the coils of celluloid sequins on tulle bubbled up and hand painted to create a mind-altering fabrication. Bubble-skirted smock dresses, open back leather waistcoats and spliced moto jackets inlaid with Louis Vuitton’s Monogram and Damier leathers were worked into the mix. “I was thinking about this digital frontier, which I wanted to combine in harmony with the world of Louis Vuitton – the craft, the wardrobe. It’s an evocation of cyber, of what comes from digital – these characters or girls that are speaking to their generation.” Ghesquière probably had girls like Grimes or up-and-coming new wave R&B artist Kelela in mind. They were sat in the frow. 

The industry has sometimes been critical of the ways in which the digital world has so dramatically shifted how we perceive fashion. Ghesquière has no time for such rose-tinted nostalgia. He’s busy embracing what technology has to offer, seeing the positives of the virtual world and observing what ramifications that might have on the future. Back in 1854, Louis Vuitton was a house built on travelling at a leisurely pace by boat, but today it’s enabling Ghesquière to travel to a fantastical unknown. “I love the spirit of the house and its history but I’m also here to look forward.”