Designers like Phoebe Philo and Demna Gvasalia, via the label Vetements and now Balenciaga, have changed the landscape of high fashion by designing clothes that are both forward-thinking and beg to be worn now. Hedi Slimane has raised Saint Laurent’s cachet among consumers by simplifying designs, and not making the brand beholden to conventional ideas of luxury or YSL’s legacy. The Paris shows have made it glaringly clear that some conceptual designers are having a hard time creating clothes that are both wearable and desirable.
I’ve loved Nicolas Ghesquière’s collections for Louis Vuitton since he became creative director two years ago. His clothes were fresh and wearable, or looked that way. But the collection he showed yesterday, while it contained plenty of wearable styles — fluid dresses in scarf prints, fuzzy sweatshirts in saturated colors, lots of pants — was basically an overstyled bunch of classics. Ghesquière said afterward that his aim this season was to rework classics, like the cropped jacket and the futuristic sports look he popularized, adding, about the show, “It’s not a big statement.”
I get what he’s saying. In fact, a lot of designers are taking the same approach. But Ghesquière isn’t giving people a new way to perceive themselves in those classics. That’s what is missing. Instead, he’s just updating the hiking boot, or the trench coat, or the Gaultier bra-cup top. As I say, he seemed on the right track with his first Vuitton collections.