THE INTERVIEW | Louis Vuitton's Nicolas Ghesquière
One month to go! @nicolasghesquiere. And a picture from inside the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum in Rio de Janeiro. Nicolas Ghesquière's Instagram account provides a countdown, a kind of virtual record of the new journey on which he is taking Louis Vuitton. Both a specific journey to the upcoming cruise collection fashion show in Brazil, and, more in general, the aesthetic revolution underway at the fashion house under the LVMH umbrella, where he is Artistic Director for the women’s collections. Coated in innovation with futuristic touches in grandiose settings. Ranging from manga, deluxe and gothic to new classic, sporty and stellar. With figures that display a timeless and individual approach, mirrored by Ghesquière himself in his answers to my questions.
Photography by Emanuele Scorcelletti
Stefano Roncato: How important are the visual arts, from architecture to cinema, in your creative work?
Nicolas Ghesquière: I am curious by nature, a researcher and an explorer. I like to allow myself to be inspired by the sensations around me. I love the work of architects like Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and art by creative people like Cindy Sherman, and the work of Rem Koolhas enthrals me. And I love the cinema… My passion for Star Wars in part stems from the same approach: when I was a child I was absolutely captivated by it, including aesthetically. Princess Leia, for example, was extraordinary; she was one of the first heroines I encountered.
SR: This attraction can also be seen in your choice of a striking location for the cruise collection fashion shows… coming soon to the Contemporary Art Museum in Rio de Janeiro…
NG: This location inspired me immediately. After the home of Bob and Dolores Hope in Palm Springs, California, designed by John Lautner, this is the next step on an architectural journey that epitomises the fashion house. Just as it was with John Lautner, going to the building is like being transported to a relationship where nature, geography and architecture are brought together in the vision of a great architect. The presentation of the cruise collection 2017 will showcase the vision of Oscar Niemeyer.
SR: Whilst at your last show in Paris you created a set design like a futuristic Atlantis. What was your inspiration for the Fall/Winter 2016/17 collection?
NG: I started by looking at how the girls around me dress. What they are wearing at the moment: new classics, items that are ever-present in their wardrobe and that they always love to wear. Sports clothes and the way they have been transformed and inserted into women’s everyday wardrobe. And then the fashion side, with its experimentation and innovation. And I realised that in recent years I have never gone so deep into my research, mixing all these elements.
SR: What is a wardrobe like nowadays?
NG: Very individual… The current era reflects individuality and unique choices. Everyone has a strong opinion on fashion. I love the variety of things on offer. And I love how they can be used and brought together. People on the street are undeniably inspiring, with incredible individual combinations that reflect their personality. Some people say that there is too much choice at the moment. But I think that it is a good thing. It allows everybody to have their own form of expression. There is a feeling of evolution.
SR: Your most recent fashion show also contained strong references to a futuristic, digital world... How important is this for you?
NG: In the last season I decided to start the show with the introduction to a video game popular amongst children called Minecraft. This was my way of welcoming spectators and beginning this journey. All generations nowadays are influenced by the digital universe, and therefore my journey with Louis Vuitton could not be anything other than a voyage through the virtual world. The next step was to bring together everything swirling around in my mind, all images with a real foundation that I wanted to transform and modernise. From the digital girls that star in the Louis Vuitton window displays to the work of Wong Kar-wai, and in particular the film My Blueberry Nights, not forgetting the actress Doona Bae, my great friend and muse, and the Japanese manga Evangelion. What you see on the catwalk is not the future; it is my vision of the present.
SR: Which elements of Louis Vuitton’s DNA influenced it?
NG: I am fascinated by personalisation, which is a central theme in the fashion house's history, and every season I try to interpret this with my own vision. Last season it was a remix of the monogram, the Damier checkerboard pattern, stripes and coloured bands. This season it is the monogram, spots and scarves. My job is to innovate in a mix where everything is permitted.
SR: Ever since you took over the creative reins you have always talked about a timeless approach…
NG: The style of each collection is the continuation and evolution of the previous season. I like the idea of working on a certain narrative with no concept of time. I've tried to build a functional female figure a little at a time, which can narrate different moments of people's life with the same flavour. I like the idea of exploring a contemporary way of living. Garments with a tactile quality that are extremely well-made, but also absolute simplicity, both in terms of the design and the sales process.
SR: Did you take the same approach to the accessories?
NG: Yes, there too I tried to turn Vuitton’s iconic heritage into a linear, modern object. I simply thought about the item that symbolises the fashion house, the case, and transformed it into a small clutch bag, an everyday item. That's how the Petite Malle was born, for example - with extraordinary simplicity. We created the first models in the Asniers atelier, the beating heart of the brand, with the same approach that I am using to forge my vision for Louis Vuitton.
SR: How do you like to describe your Louis Vuitton?
NG: With a simple and direct lexicon, made up of high quality materials. Combined with an all-round flexibility that manages to make every outfit desirable.
SR: How do you manage to combine 160 years of heritage with your vision?
NG: Sometimes people tend to see Louis Vuitton as nothing more than a leather goods company, because its bags are so strong, big and beautiful. And fashion can then appear meek in comparison. When I arrived, I approached the project by saying to myself: “If you can incorporate the idea of the bag, you will turn it into a real look”. When you have the bag, you also have to have the look. And when you have the look, you have to have the bag. But it has to be a complete outfit. And a complete womenswear collection, with its full range of options, should appear ready-mixed, like a person of style.
SR: Can you describe your woman in three words?
NG: Hybrid. Athletic. And also classic. She’s a new classic.
By Stefano Roncato - MFF Magazine for Fashion
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