Nicolas Ghesquiere likes to take his clients on a vacation.
Earlier in May this year, he took the fashion pack to the Fondation Marguerite et Aimé Maeght located in Saint-Paul de Vence, a French Riviera town in southeastern France. From Singapore, it's a 17-hour flight (with transit) to the Côte d'Azur international airport in Nice before another 12km car ride to the medieval town. It's a long journey, all in the name of Ghesquiere's Cruise 2019 runway show for the house of Louis Vuitton. Yet, this was not unusual by Ghesquiere's standards.
In May 2014, the French fashion designer held Louis Vuitton's first-ever cruise show in Monaco's Palace Square. In 2015, he took it to the late American comedian Bob Hope's sprawling estate in Palm Springs. In 2016, the spaceship-lookalike Niterói Contemporary Art Museum in Rio de Janeiro. In 2017, the Miho Museum in Kyoto, which a local travel writer has since noticed an influx of foreigners visiting the museum.
Vacations, travels and tourists all make sense in the spirit of these cruise (or resort) collections. Its history is firmly rooted in the concept of travel and dates back to the early 1920s, a time when the French elites drove to the French Riviera resorts and hopped aboard cruise liners for holidays. These were collections designed for travellers.
Fast forward to the '80s, an article from The New York Times noted the growth of these cruise and resort collections in the American markets. "The season has grown in importance as European designers gain strength in this country and require new merchandise to fill their shops and departments between fall and spring. In recent years they have all added collections they generally call "cruise" for American stores."
Today, the cruise runways typically take place in May and are delivered to retail stores anytime between October and December. While they once merely served as commercial pieces that are befitting of travel, cruise collections have taken a life of their own and now bear their own narratives and the designer's fingerprints.
For Ghesquiere, these cruise collections seem like blank canvases. His Cruise 2019 collection was a mirror of the art dealer Aimé Maeght's personality.
"I've known this place for twenty-five years and I love coming here regularly," Ghesquiere said in an official release. "It has a beautiful family history, a particular story about passionate gallerists who, along with all the artists for whom they were both friends and patron, invented an extraordinary place for artistic dialogue. You can see in these enduring works all their complicity and artistic flow. It's an intelligent, beautiful site. A place that has spirit, installations have a special rapport with nature and the seasons."
The clothes dissected the woman's body at her natural waistline. They were first decked in structural blouses and dresses painted in neutral colours of the Fondation Maeght's architecture. As the show progressed, shirts and dresses were divided by graphic colour blocks and punctuated with geometric motifs surfaced in what seems like a nod to the gouache paintings of the late Moscow-born painter Vassily Kandinsky, and American painter Alexander Calder — all of which are represented at the Fondation Maeght. Midway through the show, the fabric repertoire morphed into painterly impressionist floral motifs. When it came to the finale, models strutted by a sculpture by the late Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti and were inevitably pictured with it — circling back to Ghesquiere's intention to capture the spirit and works of the Fondation Maeght.
Although the pieces presented in this collection may seem challenging to don on the streets of Singapore, fashion personality Yoyo Cao has some styling advice up her sleeves. Click through the gallery for her picks and tips.
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