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Nicolas Ghesquière has been building the same wardrobe for the past year. In its original capsule form, as first offered for autumn/winter 2014 ( his debut collection for Louis Vuitton), the silhouette was strict and the fabrications shouty: a high-waisted A-line skirt cut above the knee dominated. There were lacquered leathers and ankle boots. He had introduced a new language at the fashion house, and it wasn’t always easy to interpret (especially in the Middle East where women balked at the short hemlines and low-cut cleavage details).
In the intervening collections, the silhouette has softened; trousers and a softer, silkier shape were introduced, while a pretty palette of patterned silks and velvets made it more commercial.
For AW15, Ghesquière had built again. “I was thinking about exploration and the travelling woman,” he said backstage, from within the space-age biosphere he had constructed in the grounds of the brand’s Frank Gehry-designed foundation. “I am building the wardrobe little by little, to reflect the kind of woman who picks up more craftsman-made things and mixes them with the more urban.”
Shareholders will be relieved to discover that that meant a simple trouser suit, in navy, sliced just above the ankle but otherwise conservative enough to dignify any office.
Despite unexpected sales growth in the last-quarter of 2014 (which was largely attributed to the hoopla surrounding the limited edition Celebrating Monogram bags that went into stores in November) and Bernard Arnault’s insistence on Ghesquière’s commercial success at the house, growth at LVMH has been slower than ideal, and one suspects the inclusion of more sober suiting will not have been inadvertent.
The craftsmanship elements were best expressed in shaggy shearling coats that wrapped the body and added new volumes to Ghesquière’s emerging line. Rib-knit skirts were gently fluted around the hem and belted with a dangling silver chain, while blouses and knits, puffed at the shoulder, had a whiff of Victoriana about them. In a season of animals, the best of all were here — in a jellyfish brocade seen among tufted mohair leopard-print knits, leathers and lace girdle dresses. The hugely copied polo necks had been placed in storage. Instead, the looks were softer and more approachable. “There’s a New Romanticism about the season,” Ghesquière agreed.
That said, the designer known for his admiration for all things cosmic was always going to include a bit of star-tech chic: a silver beaded skirt shimmered like a constellation. And he had reintroduced a range of vanity case bags, like laboratory trunks fabricated in carbon, aluminium, leather and wood: each had been customised inside for the 21st-century explorer to store their kit (tablet, phone etc). “One of the bags dated from the 1940s,” he explained of their genesis. “Another was amphibian. I then developed one in which to store your digital tools.”
It’s all part of Ghesquière’s ongoing interplay of technology and tradition: natural fibres and techno specifics, lace and latex, cashmere and carbon. His AW15 show took one small step further in his interstellar quest: but its kitten-heeled booties and pointy Mary Janes were anchored safely on Planet Earth.
For more reports from the Paris shows, visit our fashion weeks page on the FT web app or our AW2015 fashion weeks hub on FT.com
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