Paris Fashion Week AW18: Louis Vuitton Reboots Bourgeois French Fashion In A Bid To Rethink Femininity

Because you can wear teeny bouclé skirts and demand that you be still taken seriously.

More from Paris Fashion Week
20 articles
Chanel AW18  Edie Campbell
All Your Insta Faves Walked For Chanel AW18
The A-Z Of Fashion Month
Louis Vuitton AW18 Eye Makeup
Louis Vuitton AW18 Racing Stripe Eye Make-Up

How do you end a month of shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris on a high note? Easy, if you're a 19 billion dollar brand like Louis Vuitton. You choose the Musée du Louvre as the setting for your AW18 show. And you fill the venue with a crowd of Hollywood's A-list: Emma Stone, Isabelle Huppert, Catherine Deneuve and Michelle Williams, along with Chloe Moretz, Jaden Smith and Sophie Turner.

Tuesday saw Louis Vuitton creative director, Nicolas Ghesquière deliver something different to the souped up sportswear and frock coats of SS18. AW18 was baroque in its ornamentation. You could see the gilded borders of Versailles interiors in the opening looks, as well as the curved grills of Cadillacs from the 1950s - a period marked by its preoccupation with the past, remembered as The Golden Age of Futurism.


Ghesquière admits that he keenly mines the past, his own too (we've seen those finned-Cadillac as prints in LV's SS15 collection). And it's the gulf between then and now that excites him. 'The research, it's like travelling in a time machine' he said backstage at the show, with all the enthusiasm you'd expect of a sci-fi fan-kid (look at this, he loves Star Wars). 'We all have access to more information about our future - or what we believe will be our future - and so much information about our past. It's fascinating to grab things from then and understand its context. The present is about redefining that.'

If Ghesquière can appropriate a Star Trek comms badge, and entice customers onto the LV Fleet, you can consider his commitment to 'redefinition' successful. The raglan-sleeved, blouse-sweater hybrids showcasing a new wing-like logo can attest to that.

But there was a more pertinent process of redefining going on. Look at the tweedy bourgeois twin-sets with medallion buttons and pearls - the uniform for a moneyed, Parisian archetype. It's chic. It wouldn't look out of place on Brigitte Macron at a state dinner (she proved as much by wearing a SS18 frock coat to a dinner hosted by the French president on Monday). It's quintessentially 'feminine.' But there was something spiky in this femininity, each look a little 'off' - pretty polka dot pumps came with chunky snakeskin heels. The bullion embroidery on jackets and shirts was shaped like rotary razor blades.


The opposite was true of the typically tough leathers and 'cool' shearlings. They had waists, either cinched with a string belt, or peplum - the silhouette was unmistakably feminine. Ghesquière wanted you to know that. Because 'sometimes we think that to empower a woman, we need to put her in men's clothes' he said. 'But we forget that so many strong women are in very typically feminine outfits.' And Ghesquière has been listening to the women around him, including his coterie of celebrity LV ambassadors - actresses holding their hands up and saying #MeToo, vowing to be vocal about gas-lighting and abuse in their industry.

'I have these discussions about #MeToo everyday. It's a dialogue we have all the time,' he said of listening to the women who inspire his work. And from these conversations, it's clear that some rethinking needs to be done about what we expect of typically feminine fashion. 'I love this idea of a woman taking over the world - and not having to dress like a man, or for me.' So you can wear the teeny bouclé skirts and demand that you still be taken seriously.

More from ELLE UK: