The world of fashion is one of constant movement, innovation and change. Former creative director of Balenciaga, Nicolas Ghesquière was recently appointed as Louis Vuitton’s womenswear artistic director, beginning his role effective immediately. His appointment chimes into the wind of transition recently felt at Dior, with Raf Simons stepping in as creative director, as well as Alexander Wang replacing Ghesquière at Balenciaga, leaving fashion insiders anxious to discover coming seasons.
A globally preeminent brand, Louis Vuitton’s each and every move is subject to examination by its global audience and clientele. For 16 years Marc Jacobs has held the creative reigns of Louis Vuitton. His style is flamboyant, daring, provocative and somewhat very 'un-French'. Yes, Jacobs did indeed bring around the revival of 200-year-old leather goods company, he commercialised it, revitalised it, internationalised it. But how far away did he stray from Louis Vuitton’s DNA to achieve this?
Luxury in the contemporary world is defined much more subtlety than it may have been 10 years ago. It is no longer obvious and communicated through conspicuous brand names or ostentatious logos. Contemporary luxury is found in the impeccable quality, the richness of materials, the ingenuity of cut and the refinement of texture. One must have the eye for luxury, not just the wallet. A burgeoning number of high-end fashion brands are finding that such an approach to luxury is the most promising in guaranteeing a successful future. A brilliant example of this approach is Tomas Maier’s miracle work in transforming Bottega Venetta from a near-bankrupt company to an illustrious fashion house. Focusing on creating logo-less products with longer life spans rather than short term fads, Maier succeeded in finding the nobility that lied deep within Bottega Venetta’s history, and creating an image symbolic of chic and ‘savoir-faire'.
Just as Maier, Nicolas Ghesquière’s talent is at the core of the redefinition of the luxury market. Ghesquière’s design is the work of a visionary. So very different from Jacobs' pomp and extravagance, it is crisp, fully innovative and so very excitingly desirable. It has the power to transition Louis Vuitton into a new age of sustainable luxurious branding and style. He is, like a perfectly fitting 'escarpin', suited for a company with such a rich heritage, know-how and elegance and will know just exactly how to bring back the French 'je-ne-sais-quoi' that Marc Jacobs lacked as an American designer.
Ghesquière will undoubtedly know how to circumvent the budding obstacle of 'logo-fatigue' and give Louis Vuitton a new life of cutting edge logo-less modernism. Logos are simply an easy and effective way of commercialising basic design, and do not entice the customer to indulge in a long term and personal relationship with the brand. Louis Vuitton anticipates a shift from the overused monogram and Damier pattern to a more sophisticated method of branding, highlighting its expertise and exclusivity.
The French may be resistant to change, but Nicolas Ghesquière’s talent in combining futurism and traditional essence will undoubtedly convince an international audience that his way is the way forward. Louis Vuitton should be confident that its newest recruit will be the one to bring the brand to its next age of business success, while strengthening its irreplaceable history of aesthetic.