On a bridge amid a crisp Seoul night, you’ll find a French icon engulfed in darkness. However, it isn’t just any French icon; it’s Louis Vuitton, presenting its Pre-Fall 2023 collection.
Don’t let the eye fool you; the bridge is not merely a setting for its latest presentation (although the shimmering ripples of the Han River alongside the city’s burning lights make for quite the backdrop). It’s a metaphor. On one side is fashion’s rich heritage of French craftsmanship; on the other lies the frisson of fashion’s future, specifically its relation to the fervent rise of Seoul as a fashion capital.
Halfway between high fashion and urban style subversion, you’ll find Louis Vuitton’s latest threads. As the show starts, a dystopian aura emanates from the bridge. You’ve got the freezing ferocity of Seoul’s vernal breeze, suspenseful drumming, and a dash of sonorous chanting. Glorious gusts of wind whip the hair of Hoyeon Jung into a frenzy of silken strands as she opens the show. Cobalt Blue gets sliced up with black and hints of Dijon Yellow in a zip-up jacket. While its sleeves marvelously balloon with the breeze, its waist cinches to a bite-sized portion as it is tucked into an A-line black leather mini skirt.
Jung’s gaze remains fixed on a point in the distance. It’s all very cinematic; that’s no coincidence. Joining Louis Vuitton is “Squid Game” director Hwang Dong-hyuk as a creative advisor.
Technical fabrics billow with the winds of Seoul’s spring. Jackets take on color-blocked variations redolent of the vivid hues Nicolas Ghesquière explored during the dawn of his tenure at Louis Vuitton. There’s something very sporty about his latest sartorial escapade. It’s certainly not casual. Yet, there’s a refreshing kick to apparel that would be dubbed conventional were it not for its whimsical accents, such as blown-up belt buckles, linear shield sunglasses, and eye-boggling geometrical prints. Either pronounced in classic pinstripes or pinched checkerboards, Louis Vuitton’s prints fizzle with effervescence.
As whimsical and steeped in sportswear the collection may be, Ghesquière and his team excel at striking a harmonious balance between irreverence and the traditional glamour Louis Vuitton is famed for. Shimmering sequins and exploded quilted leather allude to the quintessential glamour woven into the house’s DNA. Leather carves out the form of models as panels of smooth calfskin glisten like lacquer around the shoulders and waist. And just when you thought it couldn’t possibly get any more glamorous, a plush fur coat in a neutral hue of beige enters the runway.
As usual, indulgences of “LV” monograms made their way to the runway. After all, Louis Vuitton couldn’t possibly help itself when concerning the temptation of a little logomania.
The trunk, too, finds itself revisited as the it-bag takes on a new shape. This time around, its uber-structured exterior finds a splendidly sagging point at its center.
As with any fashion show, house codes were brought under Louis Vuitton’s microscope and toyed with.
However, Ghesquière’s audacious designs stood out as he proposed perhaps you can still have fun with fashion even amongst the current craze for Quiet Luxury.