Fashion as a form of escapism takes on a whole new meaning during the cruise season, when the titan luxury brands put on extravagant, larger than life runway experiences in fabulous, far-flung locations all over the world.
Depending on the show and the season, the luxury consumer can be anyone she wants. This month alone: a Grecian goddess (Chanel), glamorous sportswoman (Prada), or California desert queen (Dior.)
But as far as catwalk happenings go, it doesn't get more extraordinary than a runway show set in Japan's Shigaraki Mountains against a backdrop of the I.M. Pei-designed Miho Museum, an otherworldly looking building based on the idea of Shangri-la, heaven on earth.
Adding to the thrill: 550 flown-in guests including Hollywood glitterati Michelle Williams, Riley Keough, Sophie Turner, Isablle Huppert, and Jennifer Connelly, all in their front row seats.
This was more than an Instagrammable moment, it was a wholly immersive experience. (The runway show was just one elaborate part, of a four-day lineup of activities.)
And for creative director Nicolas Ghesquiére it was also a milestone, a career goal fulfilled. This is a man who seems to be making a habit of staging his runway shows in some of the best museums in the world, including the Louvre, for which Pei designed the glass pyramid. The Miho Museum was on his bucket list.
'I saw this museum in a magazine years ago and I asked a friend to find it for me. I saw this extraordinary place and I thought, "Wow I wish I could do a fashion show here one day,"' he said beaming post-show. 'And then Louis Vuitton happened and then the cruise made all of these kinds of projects possible. So it was kind of a dream come true.'
That sense of accomplishment clearly had an impact on his creative output because the collection, a celebration of Japan, was one of Ghesquiére's best in recent memory. Maybe that's because the subject matter suits his strengths so well. Japan has futurism, art and stunning natural beauty in spades, all of which are ideas Ghesquiére regularly explores in his design work.
But unlike his recent collections, the clothes in today's show had a strong nod to the past, spanning the days of the samurai to the urban warrior biker girl, while also fuelling fashion's ever-growing infatuation with the Seventies.
Ghesquiére said he was inspired by the 1970s film, 'Stray Cat Rock,' about a gang of women on motorcycles. That translated into some excellent coats and jackets —some done in retro cinnamon and tobacco-coloured patchwork leather and others covered in animal prints, with large, butterfly collars.
Meanwhile, the Japanese references were most notable through a collaboration with legendary designer Kansaï Yamamoto.
The man who is most famous for dressing David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust created exclusive illustrations for the collection.
'Yamamoto was the first Japanese designer to show in Paris and so I thought we needed to celebrate that,' Ghesquiére explained.
Here, Yamamoto's work was more measured than his Bowie days, but no less flamboyant, as with a series of shimmery t-shirt dresses emblazoned with his colourful kabuki and samurai warriors.
But perhaps best of all, Ghesquiére deftly celebrated Japanese culture and fashion without literalising it (a crime many themed, destination cruise collections have been guilty of.)
Sure, his slouchy, silk dresses came belted with martial arts-style obi. But they read as an intelligent and wearable nod to a culture rather than a costume-y appropriation of it. As far as escapism goes, this was a trip worth taking.