The rise of ath-leisure has many luxury brands scrambling to produce a version of the ubiquitous sneaker. Fortunately for Louis Vuitton, that wasn’t much of a stretch for its women’s wear designer Nicolas Ghesquière, whose aesthetic has always flirted with sportswear.
His spring collection featured 18th-century-style brocade frock coats paired with chunky trainers, in what many observers saw as the tipping point of the “ugly sneaker” trend. His pre-fall collection cemented the evolution, with not only a new sock sneaker style, but a wardrobe that matched it for ease of wear.
Cinched jackets and neat leather coats provided the working wardrobe options — a kind of loosened-up version of the Sixties-inspired, futuristic tailoring that has French First Lady Brigitte Macron hooked on Vuitton. A gray wool belted jacket, for instance, was paired with black chenille wool track pants and lace-up heels.
By contrast, floor-length skirts were dressed down with casual tops and chunky outerwear. These included a white, side-split skirt that was layered under a gray hoodie embroidered with letters spelling out “Louis Vuitton” — an upscale twist on the logo sweatshirt — and an azure blue fake fur coat.
“We are constantly in movement and on a journey, be it a physical or emotional one. Paired with a tailored jacket, this look adopts a different, sportier feel while holding on to a sense of Parisian spirit,” Ghesquière said.
“This new look is also about when day meets night. Silk dresses are worn under a metallic goose down coat or chunky-knit cardigans, and a perforated leather coat is belted to create a dress,” he added.
As expected, those spring sneakers are proving a hit. “The entire creative process behind these sneakers was exciting, and I’m happy that they’ve received such a tremendous response, since the very first model fittings till now,” the designer said.
“This season we wanted to work on a new version that kept all of the stylistic features of the [spring] design,” he added. “I always balance my fashion silhouette with chunky shoes, and I think that this season’s sneaker-boot is completely in line with the look I love creating.”
Indeed, the pre-collection has traditionally mixed brand signatures with elements from previous seasons. There was a whiff of his cruise 2018 show, held in Japan, in a crisp cream leather trench, layered over a black leather jacket with silver snap buttons.
Meanwhile, the aristocratic inspiration behind the spring collection translated into bulbous sleeves featuring patterns including a new paisley print. They were attached to items like a tuxedo jacket and a ribbed gray sweater with pie-crust frills.
Ghesquière also tapped into growing consumer concerns over ethical issues with an array of faux fabrics. A cowl-necked black mini dress was made of fake leather, while a snuggly beige zip-up hooded jacket was available in both real and fake fur, proving you really can have it both ways.
The designer declined to comment on the trend for major labels, including Gucci and Michael Kors, to go completely fur-free, but a spokeswoman pointed out he has always used a mix of the real thing and imitation materials.
This time around, even the handbags got the trompe-l’oeil treatment: the box-shaped Petite Malle, which Ghesquière launched in 2014, was reimagined in a supple version. It retains the outward trappings of a trunk, including its brass lock, but zips open at the top. Comfort meets style in a nutshell.
Photography: Masato Onoda
Hair: Rebekah Calo
Makeup: Tatyana Makarova
Model: Sora Choi