#SuzyPFW: Louis Vuitton Plays With Gender

With the speed the models were going, slipping on wet patches as they walked the maze of tents through the misty, rain-blurred Paris Louvre – how could anyone sort out the boys from the girls?

Well, it was not that difficult: the females looked tough but wore frilly sleeves, colourful space-age patterns or sweet florals, such as a mix of blue and mauve roses on a simple shirt and trousers.

The males were in suits brightened with a surreal print T-shirt or just straightforward jackets and trousers over a roll-neck top.

But wait a minute – there’s something amiss here. The boys were all girls wanting to look like tough men.

“They were actually all girls – it was a question of empowerment and ambiguity,” admitted Louis Vuitton’s creative director Nicolas Ghesquière.

“My idea was to be ambiguous because everyone thinks that when a woman dresses like a man, it’s giving her power,” he continued. “I think you can be very vulnerable when you wear a suit as a woman. It was very interesting to play with that ambiguity.”

There, in nutshell is the subject designers have been trying to crack in a month-long period of fashion shows in four cities. Call it ‘gender bending’ or ‘gender neutral’ – or anything that sums up the fact that a new generation is growing up not caring too much about those definitions.

Ghesquière had all sorts of interesting things to say about the Spring/Summer 2019 collection. He explained the insertion of images, produced digitally, but looking like old-fashioned postcards on the chest.

“They are artificial landscapes that we designed and we thought it was very interesting to use them as an imaginary landscape for a woman to have on her clothes. Some of the little dots you saw were like cities, potassium lakes that were shot by drones.”

Ghesquière has always seemed fascinated by futurism. It is at the heart of all his collections. But this season there were clashes of the new – a rounded coat standing stiffly around the body in contrast to little patterned dresses, girlish and soft at the waist. More gender play?

“It’s not armour – that coat is more like a shell,” said the designer. “It’s rubber, the new Vuitton trench coat. It’s always a challenge to build architecture around the body and to keep the movement and fluidity you need with clothes.”

It is to Ghesquière’s credit that he puts so much deep thought into what look at first sight like simple pieces.

Oh, and what about the handbags, Vuitton’s heartland? The new shape is round like a spaceship landing – perfect for both the girls and the boys.