Sunset at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, a 30-minute drive north from San Diego, is a sight to behold.
Taking inspiration from monasteries and artistic retreats, it was built by Louis Kahn in 1965—in close collaboration with Dr Jonas Salk, the American virologist who developed one of the first successful polio vaccines in 1955—to create a place of serenity and reflection. And when the sun casts its rays across the Pacific Ocean at dusk, framed by the Salk’s bold lines, yet tempered by its intimate scale, it creates a dazzling visual feast that Nicolas Ghesquière, artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s women’s collections, aptly encapsulates as “a moment suspended in time.”
“It’s another image of California. It’s as if the sun has found its frame; it plays with the building’s perspective and its rays culminate in the linear fountainhead, the vanishing point where the water seems to turn to liquid gold,” shares Ghesquière. “When I saw its strange harmony, everything clicked. I wanted the clothes to be like reflections, a point of contact between light and people. The guest of honour in this show is the sun.”
And with that, Ghesquière presented a Cruise 2023 collection that was replete with rich dualities: sun worship and sun protection; nature and technology; function and form.
Hieratic dresses in cocoon silhouettes opened the show, conjuring up images of mythical oracles in rouched robes, but elevated in metallic jacquard; long swathes of frayed tweed slung across the body and bundled around the head à la Zendaya from Dune followed suit, but styled over tops and mini-skirts festooned with silver paillettes for a high fashion contrast.
“The first part of the show is based on the desert and how to protect oneself from the sun,” says Ghesquière.
Next, Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad wore a futuristic two-piece featuring streamlined black and yellow prints that could have been borrowed from a sci-fi movie set, before model Chu Wong stepped out in a chest plate scaled with blue fins.
“There are also prints inspired by jet skis, the sea, technical elements from the nautical life that blend with the sand, the rugged cliffs—it makes for beautiful images,” Ghesquière continues. “The contrast between technology and the earth.”
In fact, this duality could often be found encapsulated in one ensemble—for example, that LV duffle bag crafted from buffed cylindrical steel carried alongside ready-to-wear rendered in raw natural materials designed to look like amoeba; or that bulbous bolero created like the armour of an armadillo, but anchored with thigh-high boots embellished with reflective bands like mini solar panels.
For a dichotomous collection that followed the sun’s journey from the sky to the sea, characterised by a colour palette that spanned the prism of metallic hues, the soundtrack by the Sparks could not have been more felicitous: ‘The Number One Song in Heaven’ opened, and ‘Never Turn Your Back on Mother Nature’ closed.
Yet, the most striking looks were often the simplest—Olympic champion skier Eileen Gu in a ruffled silk cloqué two-piece finished with a soft LV monogram bag taking after the maison’s iconic trunks, and model Lauren Wasser looking bionic in a full-silver outfit featuring a buttoned-up leather top and trousers, topped with a billowing windbreaker complete with broad angular lapels.
Scroll through the gallery below to see our favourite 13 looks from Louis Vuitton Cruise 2023.
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