Often, Cruise collections are designed with travel in mind. Sure, at times, that means on a literal cruise, but also planes, trains, and automobiles destined for far-flung destinations including Morocco (Dior's 2020 show) or the French Riviera (Louis Vuitton's show locale last year). But this year, creative director Nicolas Ghesquière took things a step further, showing Louis Vuitton's 2020 Cruise collection inside an airport — New York's iconic TWA flight center at JFK to be exact.
"I was lucky enough to have landed at the TWA Flight Center in the late '90s," Ghesquiére explains in the show notes. "It was something I could never forget. It’s about rediscovering of an uncommon place that yet is a part of American heritage." The flight center was built in 1962 by architect Eero Saarinen, and served in many ways as an anchor point to the collection, which was inspired by the designer's early visits to New York. "When you first come to New York you have so much to discover; the images are so strong in your mind,” he told Vogue UK. "As a French designer showing here, I felt very free to express emotions and even clichés about the city.” The mutual fascination between the French and Americans — both in fashion and culture helped to define the collection.
Throughout the collection there were obvious homages to the city, like the Manhattan skyline painted across the front of a leather jacket and a bag in the shape of the empire state building. But, the city also appeared in more nuanced ways. Models wore wrist-length gloves, alluding to the dressed-to-the-nines uptown crowd. Wall Street suiting —and yes, lots of black — also helped to form the collection.
For his Fall/Winter 2019 collection in Paris, Ghesquière combined the colors, prints, and energy of the '80s with a futuristic twist, and that push and pull continued squarely into Cruise. The oversized silhouettes, exaggerated shoulders, and ruching all tied back to the era. But so too were there more forward-thinking pieces, including the brand's first digitally printed bag.
The collection also nodded to American pop culture, with references to Batman (who called Gotham his home), and bold highly saturated makeup reminiscent of the 1982 film Blade Runner, another example of city-centric futurism. Film is a cultural pillar in America, and in embracing both the actual archetypes of New York, along with those on screen, Ghesquière created a collection that while eclectic still felt unified.
Held just a few days after the 2019 Met Gala, where Ghesquière walked the carpet alongside muses like Emma Stone, Laura Harrier, and Sophie Turner, the show unsurprisingly included sleek red carpet-worthy looks. But, much of the collection toed the line between playful and romantic — luxe, but wearable for every day. Silk bubble-hem skirts were worn with sharp jackets or short-sleeve tops. The collections graphic dresses weren't styled with sky-high heels, but with tough calf-high boots.
The beauty of the 60-piece collection is that looking at every accessory, separate, or shoe, you could easily create a narrative that ties back to New York — the punk leather, the uptown lace, and the pinstripes of the Financial district. The message is clear: visit New York, and you bring a little piece of it back with you.