Nicolas Ghesquière’s Ode to Japanese Art: Louis Vuitton Cruise 2018

The brand took over the Miho Museum outside Kyoto for its outdoor runway spectacle
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The eye-watering expense of the modern Cruise show ensures that virtually nothing is left to chance. You probably (nay, must) know by now that Louis Vuitton staged its Cruise 2018 show at the Miho Museum, devoted to antiquities and designed by architect I.M. Pei to blend into the Shigaraki mountains; the museum’s structure, it is claimed, represents the traditional Japanese reverence for nature.

You probably also know that models shuffled along a conveyor belt in the Miho’s photo-bait tunnel before emerging onto its bridge-turned-catwalk, and that the collection riffed on Japanese culture’s many oppositions, in particular the country’s infatuation with technology and its deep appreciation for pastoral simplicity.  

Cue the weaving techniques, flourishes from samurai armour and martial arts dress, and rich metallic textiles inspired by classical ink paintings of landscapes, all of which elevated the streetwear staples that Nicolas Ghesquière’s followers have adopted as their uniform. Hokusai woodcuts and Noh theatre masks were also referenced, leaving no stone of the Japanese arts unturned. It’s hard to argue that these weren’t the most overexposed elements of a tradition with far more to offer; but configured in such a handsome manner, there was little cause to complain.

If you’d read any in-depth reviews, you may have discovered that several of the collection’s graphics were contributed by Kansai Yamamoto, a forerunner to the Japanese wave that swept Paris in the 80s, and a designer whose costumes for David Bowie during the Ziggy Stardust era have largely overshadowed his other work. Following Valentino’s partnership with Zandra Rhodes, we eagerly anticipate the next icon-megabrand tie-up. It would be a welcome relief from another “collaboration” with an untrained celebrity, often little more than a cynical, money-grabbing exercise.

Fashion in Motion: Kansai Yamamoto at the V&A

The continued presence of tailoring and outerwear styles from the 70s — a decade in which Nicolas Ghesquière’s imagination appears permanently fixed — will surprise nobody, although this time the rationale behind their inclusion gave the show its most interesting thread. It may not command as large a following as Godzilla, Battle Royale or My Neighbour Totoro, but the Stray Cat Rock series of exploitation films — centred on a gang of toughened biker chicks — provided a (mercifully) punchy substitute to the hackneyed, shrinking-violet femininity proffered by Dolce & Gabbana and Dior’s japonisme collections, both of which took place only last month.

Stray Cat Rock Female Boss (1970) Trailer



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