What a landing! The 2020 itinerant resort tour touched down at JFK on Wednesday evening, as Nicolas Ghesquière took his Louis Vuitton audience on a complicated first-class trip.
The much-hyped show took place at the much-hyped TWA Hotel, opening next week in the famous former TWA Flight Center designed in 1962 by Eero Saarinen as a marvel of mid-century architecture and abandoned in 2001 when the airline went kerplunk and was assimilated into American Airlines. The winged marvel of a building holds special resonance for Ghesquière, not only because he has long been architecture-obsessed but because the building provided his first impression of New York, in 1991.
“I’m old,” Ghesquière said with self-effacing charm backstage after the show, “so I landed here one trip. I always remember the place, here, this terminal. Arriving to this fantastic city…and at the same time, at this masterpiece of architecture.”
This proved a more high-profile arrival, the Flight Center now populated by a celeb-heavy throng of LV-clad revelers including Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas (just your typical honeymooners passing through JFK), as well as Emma Stone, Julianne Moore, Tracy Morgan, Jennifer Connelly, Willow Smith, Ruth Negga, Robyn, Indya Moore and even Armani loyalist Cate Blanchett.
They settled into swerving, roomy seating (a happy trend this resort in New York), to watch Ghesquière’s models walk the upstairs bridge before descending the double-sided staircase. One assumed from the get-go that Ghesquière chose the venue in recognition of its compelling decorative restraint, heavy on concrete and chrome. Yet he hedged on the austerity, installing tropical-looking plants everywhere (ladies room included — a gorgeous orchid fest). Though lovely, the greenery played in odd opposition to the powerful urban aesthetic and, if the point was for guests to take in the man-made splendor, a distraction from it.
The clothes featured elements inspired by the city’s Art Deco architecture as well as Wall Street and Gotham City tropes. “As a French guy, I have no problem to go with the cliché of New York,” Ghesquière said. Yet the takeaway had nothing to do with cliché. Some smart pinstripes notwithstanding, you’d never look at these clothes, and hum, “New York, New York, a hell of a town.”
Rather, Ghesquière presented a highly ornamented rendering on tough chic, always glam and often arch and sometimes pretty, with a strong current of Eighties, and soupçons of Renaissance portraiture and the designer’s signature Superhero futurism. Capes factored prominently, in structured winglike versions that delivered the Supergal vibe over pleated trousers and soft, shimmering capelets attached to leather jackets in audacious juxtaposition. Prints and elaborate, exquisitely rendered brocades and embroideries were Art Deco inspired, often in the context of Eighties-influenced silhouettes; miniskirts with poufed appendages paired variously with biker jacket or bustier. And in the midst of it, snippets of relative calm in divergent takes on that Wall Street look: no-nonsense pantsuit and relaxed belted trench dress. As noted, it was a complicated lineup, sometimes too much so. But it was packed with powerful ideas and interesting looks.
Speaking of which, that video-screen handbag — the accessory of the future? Why not?