“You must see the sunset from the Salk!” according to Louis Vuitton’s Nicolas Ghesquière. His solution? To take dozens of house friends to see the starkly beautiful San Diego science institute he fell hard for on his travels. The clifftop venue inspired a show for the history books. Here, the key takeaways from Cruise 2023.
To San Diego! Where the set was an architectural masterpiece
Louis Vuitton’s Cruise shows are always a hot ticket to far-flung destinations (see: the Niteroi Museum in Rio de Janeiro in 2017, Palm Springs’ Bob Hope House for the 2016 season), but the consensus among guests was that this year’s venue, the Louis Kahn-designed Salk Institute in La Jolla, trumped them all. As the sun set over the vast expanses of early ’60s architecture, it seemed hard to disagree. More than a great social-media backdrop, the working biological studies campus was an apt choice for a designer obsessed with time travelling and bending tradition. “I had the honour of visiting the basement; it’s like a hideaway straight out of science fiction!” Ghesquière told his guests. “Beyond the very impressive site, this place holds enormous meaning for the future of humankind.”
The special guest was not a celebrity
Chloë Grace Moretz, Gemma Chan, Phoebe Dynevor, Maude Apatow and Léa Seydoux sat front row to watch Squid Games star Jung Ho-yeon, singer Lous and the Yakuza, and Olympic champions Eileen Gu and Dalilah Muhammad model Ghesquière’s latest work, but the guest of honour was more abstract than any star Hollywood agents could lure to San Diego: the sun. “It’s another image of California,” said the creative director of his venue choice: part surfer’s paradise, part engineering marvel where the water turns to liquid gold at dusk. “When I saw its strange harmony, everything clicked. I wanted the clothes to be like reflections, a point of contact between light and people.”
The silhouettes were complex, the fabrics mesmerising
Ghesquière created clothes that celebrated the sun and others in which to shield from it. His hybrid warrior-like looks incorporate both rigid structure and fluid draping: all Dune-esque linens artfully draped around the body to contrast leather harnesses and winged boleros. Look closer at the printed leather motorcycle-esque looks and see the influence of the watersports the area is known for. “The contrast between technology and the earth,” explained Nicolas, who is pleased with the major evolution of Louis Vuitton fabrics this season. The high-shine metallic denim, stitched with embroidery that oxidises and changes colour with time, looked particularly impressive against the glowing landscape. “It’s a total illusion,” said Ghesquière happily.
Who needs a new handbag when there’s silver skateboards on offer?
The new-season arm candy, including a supple take on the Petite Malle and a padded motorsport-look shoulder bag, looked particularly tempting when realised in tough-girl metallics. But it was the monogrammed skateboards carried by the likes of Binx Walton that looked wildly cool on the runway. Teen spirit goes chic for Cruise 2023. Start practising those ollies.
Follow @theimpossiblemuse now
Lauren Wasser, a double amputee whose silver shorts suit revealed her gold prosthetic legs, was the runway star of the night, not because of how nonchalant she looked in her electrifying tailoring, but because she got the audience talking about her campaign work around Toxic Shock Syndrome. Follow @theimpossiblemuse to see her journey – and Wasser dancing to Grimes’s DJ set, which closed out the night in La Jolla.
This article was first published on Vogue