On Tuesday, Nicolas Ghesquière debuted his latest for Louis Vuitton. Instead of closing out Paris Fashion Week at the Louvre, though — as he has for many years — the designer staged the brand’s Spring 2021 show in front of a live audience at La Samaritaine, a historic building by the Seine set to reopen some time in 2021, which was lined with green screens inside to enhance the livestream with visual effects exclusively for digital viewers.
Ghesquière was inspired by the concept of time — past, present and what happens when they’re mixed together. (It’s a theme he’s referenced frequently at Louis Vuitton and especially fitting, given that the brand is set to be the title sponsor of the Met‘s latest Costume Institute exhibition, About Time.) The early 1900s, specifically, were a focus point for this collection, he told WWD: “I think the real values of the brand were created at that moment.”
There are references to our current reality — the show opened with a “vote” T-shirt, tucked into a pair of high-waisted trousers — as well as callbacks to fashion trends past for both womenswear and menswear, updated for a Spring 2021 consumer: oversized blazers with rounded shoulders, acid-wash denim shirts paired with polished pleated shorts, cropped suit jackets, graphic T-shirt dresses draped with swaths of rich fabric. As the models navigated the maze-like runway, videos and photographs were projected onto the green screens that covered the walls and, at times, the floor — which, while cool in theory, could be dizzying at times.
In the show notes, Ghesquière wrote about “stepping into a territory that is still stylistically vague,” designing a collection that “erases gender and promises exponential creative possibilities. What does an in-between garment look like? What kind of cut can dissolve masculine and feminine? What wardrobe might s/he look good in?” It’s not to say that the designer will be veering into menswear, but rather that “this is but the beginning of a reflection that is open, stimulating and fundamentally conscious.”
The designer expanded on this idea to Vogue, telling Sarah Mower: “Young designers have been doing it for years; it’s not new as a concept at all, but what I believe is that for big brands such as Louis Vuitton, it’s very interesting. At retail, there are women who are buying a lot of Virgil’s [Abloh, menswear creative director at Louis Vuitton] clothes, and men are buying mine.”
See every look from Louis Vuitton’s Spring 2021 collection, below.