Set around a gigantic scarlet flower, Nicolas Ghesquière's latest collection was a pahis signature silhouettes and proportional
“Must be the reason why I’m king of my castle,” played on repeat at Louis Vuitton's SS23 show. The Wamdue Project club hit perfectly resonated with Nicolas Ghesquière’s collection. He is the king of his castle, the flagship LVMH maison founded 168 years ago, which will be renewing his contract next year. Which is why he feels at home enough to really push the parameters of what the house can do with its shows. This season, it built a monstrous scarlet flower-spaceship hybrid — a specially-commissioned installation designed by French artist Philippe Parreno and Hollywood production designer James Chinlund. It was the biggest set of the season, a dramatic setting for a collection that ostensibly laid down the gauntlet of Nicolas’ signature historical mash-ups and the hallmarks of the house. The carnivalesque lighting, red velvet curtains and funhouse mirrors set the tone for some kind of circus trickery. Not everything, however, was going to be as it seemed.
Squid Game star HoYeon Jung opened the show in a tubular tank top — almost a bit like a skimpy astronaut suit — with exaggerated zips blown up so big that Nicolas reportedly claimed they were the largest ever zips to be manufactured. The rest of the collection followed suit with typically minuscule details — zips, padlocks, buttons, keys, buckles, belts, and pockets — all blown up to cartoonishly large proportions, almost as if refracted through some of the funhouse mirrors that swivelled around on the audience throughout the show. Although the play on proportion might look easy when viewed on images, you can only imagine the level of technical craftsmanship it must have taken to make it function in real life.
Often, the clothes invited a second look because it was difficult to tell if the scaled-up details were just prints or the real thing. Many of them were, like the giant zips on squiggly-textured trousers, and other times, it was just trompe l’oeil trickery, as seen on a handful of leather jackets and coats with blown-up prints of buckles. What was the purpose of this zooming in on functional details? “It's a stylistic exercise that re-evaluates the proportions of clothing and its adjuncts, one in which the codes of femininity unsettle scale,” read the show notes. You got the sense that it was to make women look more menacing, to exagerate and hyperbolise the typically dainty quality of little things. Just like a giant red flower — when blown up to a towering scale, it goes from delicate to potentially dangerous. Now there’s an idea worth zooming in on.