Monstrous proportions and outsized accessories ruled the runway at Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer 2023.
Louis Vuitton returned to its show base of the Louvre’s Cour Carrée for Spring/Summer 2023 with a presentation based around a truly massive installation that was conceived by French artist Philippe Parreno and began construction in August. Walking up to the mammoth construction my eyes overdosed on swooping crimson-red paneling and what looked like arrows jutting high up in the sky. Was it a carousel? A circus tent?
From my seat, as red curtains lifted to reveal a complicated inner machination of tunnels and draped fabric, I felt too close to it to understand what it really was. I desperately wanted a bird’s eye view. When I finally saw what I was sitting inside of, I was in awe. Parreno had crafted a splayed open flower. The arrows were actually stamens pointing aloft to the sky. The inner buds were surrounded by a circumference of planks. Inside, funhouse mirrors rotated and chandelier lamps whizzed along the runway by remote control. Parreno intended it to feel like the flower was controlling its own inner workings. He dubbed it the “monster-flower”.
Likewise, the Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer 2023 worked in monstrous proportions, so exaggerated that it seemed like they had been distorted by funhouse mirrors. The first look set the tone of what was to come. A vest-like top came with tubular rolled padding, and the center line bore the biggest zipper I’ve ever seen in my life. Creative Director Nicolas Ghesquière later confirmed to the press that they were, in fact, the largest zippers ever manufactured. This monstrous opening look, worn by Squid Games star HoYeon Jung, was finished with a matching knee-length skirt (featuring the same big zipper), and thick-soled gum boots. Right away, it was clear that Ghesquière was really going for it. He held nothing back.
The ensuing collection boggled the mind. There were roll-neck ruffs topping pleated dresses that were bifurcated by leather lacing. Trompe l'oeil leather suits came stamped with faux buckles, zippers, and grommets. Tabard-like sheath dresses in blow-up jacquards were wrapped in sashes and trimmed with squiggle closures with buttons the size of fists. Color-blocked leather dresses had massive zips down the front. A later selection of printed trousers and roomy outerwear were worn with belts that were literally a meter wide. Utilitarian leather sheaths closed the show, bulked out with massive pockets. All of the accents, trims, and finishings were almost comedically large. And the bags? Some were so gigantic that they dwarfed the models carrying them. It was all going by too fast. The looks demanded deeper investigation. I wanted to get my hands on them all and see how they were made.
This ultra-experimental collection tested new boundaries, and it’s thrilling to see it happen when most luxury brands are going in a much more commercial direction. After all these years, Ghesquière still has tricks up his sleeve. New ideas. Innovation. Everything larger than life, including the show venue. What a stupendous way to close fashion month.