The Musée d’Orsay will be making a different kind of impression on March 7, when Louis Vuitton will stage its women’s fall 2022 show at the Paris landmark.
Disclosing the location exclusively to WWD, Vuitton said this marks the first time the Beaux-Arts style museum will host a fashion show, and the event kicks off a partnership with the formidable institution, home to Vincent Van Gogh’s most famous self-portrait, Édouard Manet’s “Luncheon on the Grass” and “Whistler’s Mother” by James McNeill Whistler.
Nicolas Ghesquière, Vuitton’s artistic director of women’s collections, already hinted at his affection for the location in February 2020, when he hosted a press conference in front of its two large transparent clocks to outline the “About Time: Fashion and Duration” exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, which was sponsored by Louis Vuitton.
“I am truly grateful to be able to present my new collection at the Musée d’Orsay which has always been a genuine source of inspiration for me,” Ghesquière said, lauding its “bold architecture” and its collections, including the world’s largest stash of Impressionist and post-Impressionist art.
“It’s a museum built on embracing innovation over time, be it through its iconic clock, once-radical technology such as photography, paintings by modern masters and its unique place in Paris as one of the most emblematic cultural destinations,” he added.
The fashion show will be staged in the museum’s central nave, and its Galerie Courbet. Vuitton hinted at a “deliberately minimalistic scenography to emphasize the classical architecture of a building poised at the crossroads of artistic tradition and technological revolution.”
Originally a train station inaugurated for the 1900 Paris Exposition, the building was once slated for demolition, but was spared when it was designated a historic monument in 1973. The art museum opened in 1986 and was billed as one of the largest in Europe. It showcases predominantly French artworks dating from 1848 to 1914, including paintings, photography, drawings and sculptures.
Without getting into specifics, Vuitton described a long-term partnership with the museum “that honors art and architecture, tradition and modernity, excellence and innovation, and the promotion of French culture and savoir-faire.”
Christophe Leribault, president and chief executive officer of the Musée d’Orsay, highlighted that Vuitton, founded in 1854, witnessed the birth of the modern fashion industry. “Many artists immediately embraced its novelty. Around 1900, they created the myth of the elegant and spiritual Parisienne,” he said.
Indeed, the artworks on display at the museum show “how fashion became a source of inspiration critical to modernity,” noted Sylvie Patry, chief curator and deputy director for collections at the Musée d’Orsay. “At some point, fashion converged with the development of key movement such as Impressionism. When visiting the Orsay, you can see that painters, sculptors or photographers have been obsessed with clothing.”
France’s most powerful luxury brands have been forging strong links with Paris landmarks in recent years, with Chanel sponsoring the refurbishment of the Grand Palais, home to its fashion shows since 2005, and Dior inking a multiyear partnership with the Musée du Louvre to help restore the Jardin des Tuileries, one of the largest and oldest public gardens in Paris.
Louis Vuitton also has a partnership with the Louvre museum, which has hosted fashion shows by Ghesquière since 2014.