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Louis Vuitton Resort 2017 in Rio
RIO DE JANEIRO, MAY 28, 2016
by NICOLE PHELPS
The Summer Olympics are three months out (barring a Zika virus delay), and Rio is in a state of anticipation, hustling to be ready. Tell a local the last time you were here was a dozen years ago, and the reliable reply comes: “It’s a different city now.” Today the action wasn’t at a freshly completed stadium, but at the Oscar Niemeyer–designed Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, an architectural marvel perched on a cliff that looks like it could have landed from space or emerged from the sea. It was the site of Nicolas Ghesquière’s third destination Resort show for Louis Vuitton.
There were 514 local and international guests arrayed on the museum’s spectacular patio this afternoon, much like we were last year in Palm Springs at Bob Hope’s John Lautner–designed home. Look in one direction and there was Catherine Deneuve, a regular at these things; look in another and there was Alicia Vikander, Zendaya, and Jaden Smith. Some of them had already seen the Niterói from above on helicopter tours of the city. Out-of-towners began arriving in Rio as early as Thursday, and Vuitton kept them busy with everything from trips to Corcovado to paddleboard lessons. For the tour-group averse, there was people-watching on Copacabana and Ipanema’s famous beaches.
Pulling off a multiday event requires a staggering amount of planning—not quite an Olympian effort, but close. A PR rep estimated the size of the team—models, hair and makeup artists, seamstresses, public relations types, and sundry others—at more than 300. Michael Burke, Vuitton’s CEO, said it took at least 5,000 work hours. Those numbers are testament to Vuitton’s power and pocketbook. Small fortunes have been spent, but the payoffs are equally big. As of an hour after the show, there were more than 10,000 posts hashtagged #LVCruise. The Brazilian model Alessandra Ambrosio was front row Snapchatting for the company.
But what of the clothes? This was the most athletic collection Ghesquière has done for Vuitton, and the most body-conscious, with lots of skin—designed for the Zendaya generation more than Deneuve’s. The availability of the Niterói gave the designer a destination, and Rio and its upcoming games gave him his theme. Or half a theme, anyway. “I never forget that I’m a foreigner, so I’ve also brought Paris here,” he said. “I think what defines our time is that women want to look sophisticated and they want casual sports clothes—those are the two big obsessions.”
The sports references came fast and furious. Color-blocked dresses looked like deconstructed scuba suits, windbreaker parkas seemed spliced together from flags, and basketball shorts sported the house monogram striped down the sides. Ghesquiére took cues from artist Hélio Oiticica for a pair of kitelike paper leather dresses; Aldemir Martins is the artist behind the futebol prints. As casual as the clothes were in intention, many of them were no doubt quite complicated to make. Ruched parachute dresses were among the subtler evocations of the theme, and they’ll be popular. Representing Paris was the more wintry aspect of the collection: a trim black coat and a cropped jacket with metal hardware; very cool, narrowly cut pants with a kick flare; and capelike dickeys. Ghesquière showed a lot of sequined scarves, which were as much jewelry as they were accessory. And, bien sûr, there was no shortage of bags. The Twist is now available in tropical colors, and a new style, the Pliage, boasts almost a foot of fringe. As for the boombox bags, the designer proudly reported that, thanks to Bluetooth technology, they actually play music. After the show, guests were shuttled to the Parque Lage, at the base of Corcovado; Christ the Redeemer glowed in the clouds. The evening was capped off with a rollicking samba performance. Vamos para a balada.