There’s a line in the Arcade Fire song ‘Reflektor’—the tune Nicholas Ghesquière picked to set his space age-inspired Cruise ’22 show for Louis Vuitton to—that perfectly summarises how the last year has felt. “It’s just a reflection, of a reflection, of a reflection, of a reflection…” After all, what was 15 months of lockdown if not a perpetual hall of mirrors? Our Instagram feeds were full of fashion imagery taken over Zoom, and screens become our only portals into some semblance of reality.
Ghesquière clearly wanted to escape our new uncanny valley-style sense of realism with his latest collection. Louis Vuitton’s annual Cruise shows are legendary, taking place in cascading architectural spaces like the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum in Rio de Jainero and the Miho Museum in Kyoto. How to stage a show dedicated to the art of travel at a moment where all global travel is restricted? Easy, says Nicolas: create clothes for space travel.
Staged at the futuristic Axe Majeur, an art space in the suburban Paris province of Cergy-Pointoise, Ghesquière presented 45 looks that posited what we will wear once space travel becomes commercially available. “I don’t know why, but it was always an obsession to reflect on futurism, space conquest, and what we might call ‘the space colony’,” Ghesquière said in a post-show interview. “The titans of the world are investing in it, and what looked unreal in the past is now bringing us closer to space.”
So, what does one wear for one’s first expedition out of earth’s orbit? A classically Ghesquière mishmash of eclectic references, of course. There were tailored looks inspired by marching band uniforms, ‘80s-era power shoulders, ‘00s-era bubble hems, and knife-edged cowboy boots. There were spaceship motifs, brocade prints, vinyl coats, and flowing silk peasant blouses. It’s a mix that, on paper, should never work, but of course, with Nicolas Ghesquière and Louis Vuitton, it inevitably does.
“I like the concept of a stargate – an imaginary portal – that can transport us, our feelings and our wishes to someone or something we love,” Ghesquière later said. In a moment where any kind of travel is a coveted luxury, it was a joy to escape into Louis Vuitton’s futuristic world—if only for a short while.