As Louis Vuitton’s autumn/winter 2020 show began, a curtain was drawn back to reveal a stunning grandstand populated by 200 singers, clad in rococo gowns worthy of Marie Antoinette, beaded flapper shifts, elegant silk kimonos, ruffed Elizabethan dresses, and more. The woman behind these works of art? Milena Canonero, the Oscar-winning designer who created the costumes for some of Stanley Kubrick’s greatest films, including A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon and The Shining.
As Ghesquière’s first models strutted out onto the catwalk, those in the stands began to sing a specially composed work created by musician Woodkid and composer Bryce Dessner, who wove together a Baroque composition from Bach’s forgotten contemporary Nicolas de Grigny with more pared-back contemporary verses. Its title, “Three Hundred And Twenty”, references the years between the writing of de Grigny’s original piece and today, when it was played in the Louvre for the first time.
“In fashion, the notion of time is primordial,” Ghesquière told British Vogue’s fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen backstage. “I wanted different eras to be confronted with another one, our own. All of these ‘pasts’, embodied by a gallery of personalities in period dress, converge in our present. We are all together, looking at a collection that itself recounts a living, perennial, stylistic clash — and everything we can do with clothes by mixing and free-associating them.”
Of course, the Tableau reflected Louis Vuitton’s empowering ethos for autumn/winter 2020. As the brand revealed in a statement, “This collection is like a sartorial tune-up in which personality takes precedence: everyone can pen their own history.” Also of note? The fact that the house will be sponsoring this year’s Met Gala on 1 May, where guests’ outfits will be inspired by the passage of time. Cue a host of Hollywood stylists vying for the ruffled skirts and dresses on today’s catwalk…