Louis Vuitton goes a-cruisin'

Louis Vuitton goes a-cruisin'
Models present a creation by French fashion house Louis Vuitton during the collection show entitled "Croisiere" (Cruise), on May 17, 2014, in Monaco.

At Paris Fashion Week in March, the most anticipated show was that of Louis Vuitton.

It marked Nicolas Ghesquiere's debut collection for the French luxury house since Marc Jacobs bowed out as creative director last year to focus his attentions on his namesake label.

The latter had been credited for turning Louis Vuitton into a fashion heavyweight during his 16-year tenure, with the introduction of women's and men's ready-to-wear, and collaborations with artists such as Stephen Sprouse and Takashi Murakami to make highly coveted monogrammed bags.

So it was natural that all eyes were on Ghesquiere (say jas-kee-air) - the fashion world wanted to see how the former Balenciaga designer was going to marry his experimental aesthetic with Louis Vuitton's style.

The reviews of his Fall 2014 collection - made up of pared-down, 1970s shapes - were very positive, and so were the ones of his follow-up cruise collection in Monaco last month, which featured similar shapes but amped up with bright fabric in contrasting textures (lace, perforated leather, sequin underlay, tweed, embroidery and chiffon).

Mr Michael Burke, the brand's chief executive, is not surprised.

In an exclusive interview with Life! in Monaco, he says there was always only one contender to step into Jacobs' very big shoes.

"The funny thing is, unlike most situations like this, we did not go through a long list. It was a very short list with only one name on it: Nicolas."

He says that Ghesquiere was an obvious choice for Mr Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive of luxury conglomerate Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) that owns the brand; his daughter Delphine, who is the label's executive vice-president, and himself.

He adds that Ghesquiere's designs had long caught their eye. (Although when the media was rife with speculations that Ghesquiere was to succeed Jacobs from early last year, Louis Vuitton denied it.)

At Balenciaga, Ghesquiere was credited with rejuvenating the 96-year-old house with his daring and experimental designs.

"I always respected his approach to fashion," says Mr Burke who has been with Louis Vuitton since 2012, and was the former chief executive of Fendi, Bulgari and Christian Dior USA.

"He's always had a view, like an architect, in the way he builds, sets the foundation and builds upon it. He has the courage to go against general wisdom, stick to ideas that are iconoclastic and not part of the mainstream.

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