By
with contributions from Samantha Conti
 on September 20, 2015
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LONDON — The modern fashion show is entertaining and glamorous, but over in roughly 12 minutes flat.

Louis Vuitton’s “Series 3” exhibition that opens to the public at 180 Strand here on Monday is designed to decrypt the spectacle, and exalt all the craft and creativity that goes into it.

“Fashion is a circus. There’s very little discussion about the content. But you have to go into the before, the during and the after. And if you do it in an appropriate way, it’s unforgettable,” Michael Burke, chairman and chief executive officer of Louis Vuitton, said during a walkthrough of the sprawling, high-tech showcase. “We’re experimenting with how to make you feel the show more intensely than being at the show.”

The show in question is Nicolas Ghesquière’s fall collection, paraded in a series of geodesic domes erected at the foot of the Frank Gehry-designed Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris in March. A skeletal example of one dome lords over the ceiling of the darkened room that opens the exhibition, cuing the midcentury period that the French designer frequently mines. Visitors then traverse a futuristic tunnel that plunges them into the exhibition.

Even fashion professionals could easily miss key details from the front row, including a print made by re-digitizing Vuitton’s classic monogram. Reverse projections in a circular room demonstrates how it was done in dramatic, dizzying fashion.

The exhibition is designed to slow people down, and exalt the craftsmanship that “gets short shrift at a fashion show,” Burke said.

In one room, visitors can sit at a work station and are invited to place their hands on the table, which is actually an interactive screen that springs to life and mimics your hands doing everything it takes to make a handbag. Later in the showcase, artisans from Vuitton demonstrate the assembly process for Ghesquière’s miniature trunk bags.

Finished accessories are displayed in a blinding white room on white mannequins embedded in walls and plinths, putting the sole focus on how handbags and shoes are a major component of a look, defining its allure, Burke said.

Burke said Vuitton is expecting about 100,000 visitors in London given the central location.

At the opening cocktail Monday night, Ghesquière paused to chat with one of the workers, but only briefly.

“I can’t believe I’m here, as I have another show in two weeks,” the designer remarked. “I was shaking on the Eurostar.”

Finished accessories are displayed in a blinding white room on white mannequins embedded in walls and plinths, putting the sole focus on how handbags and shoes are a major component of a look, defining its allure, Burke said.

Celebrities – almost as many as at last March’s fashion show – streamed through the exhibition, including Selena Gomez, Alicia Vikander, Michelle Williams, Catherine Deneuve, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Xavier Dolan.

“It’s nice that they’ve been able to make the Louis Vuitton fashion show last longer, and give it a sense of permanence and place,” said Williams, who has keen ears for runway soundtracks. “I love the music – but I always love the music at the shows. They always make great choices.”

“The show is quite extraordinary and very interesting to see that they are focusing on production, craftsmanship and detail and it brings back memories of all my own Vuitton trunks. I have them and still treasure them,” said Bianca Jagger, who is getting ready for the upcoming climate change conference in Paris in December.

Clémence Poesy, who now lives between Paris and London, explored every nook and cranny of the venue, stumbling across a small lounge area as hot as a sauna.

Next week, the actress starts filming a French movie titled “Demain, tout commence” (Tomorrow, everything starts, in English) opposite Omar Sy.

Burke said Vuitton is expecting about 100,000 visitors in London given the central location.

After wrapping up in the British capital on Oct. 18, “Series 3” is slated to open in Singapore in early November.

 

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