A digital comeback
Aren’t we all ready for some airbrushed hyper-unreality? Louis Vuitton’s spring/summer 2016 campaign, previewed by womenswear artistic director Nicolas Ghesquière last week, apparently stars Final Fantasy XIII character Lightning in a variety of Vuitton get-ups. In May, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York opens a show dedicated to the fusion of fashion and technology, Manus X Machina. Expect interesting looks on the red carpet for that one. The whole thing, though, is less a riposte to the picture-imperfect likes of Dove’s Real Beauty campaign and more an exploration of fashion as fantasy, and of the new digital frontiers offered in everyday life. Ghesquière based his Anime-ish Vuitton show, in part, on the new Rift virtual reality gaming headset by Facebook subsidiary company Oculus – it’s going on sale early this year, apparently; an HTC competitor isn’t far behind. I’m not advocating blanket Photoshop, but it seems foolish to imagine every campaign will be shot on grainy Polaroid when we’re all experiencing the world in digital HD.
Dior’s latest dauphin
Who will take over as head of Christian Dior, one of France’s most prestigious and historically important houses, and a touchstone of haute couture? Speculation has been rife since the departure of Raf Simons in October – only stoked by the announcement that an in-house team will complete the forthcoming three collections, leaving Dior execs plenty of time to hand-pick a successor before the 70th anniversary of the New Look next year. Given the jumble of departures over the past 12 months – Alber Elbaz leaving Lanvin, Marc Zanini departing Schiaparelli – there’s plenty of hands free. Personally, I’m not discounting Olivier Theyskens, the brilliant 38-year-old Belgian who has worked for Rochas, Nina Ricci and Theory, as well as his own line. He left that gig in 2014, and his historical, romantic, couture-tinged sensibility (and dab hand with a bit of crin) would fit Dior like a hand-sewn couture dress. I wager the name will be announced before the close of the Paris autumn/winter fashion week in March.
I hate that phrase. But the fresh crop of “musts” are possibly indicative of a recovering economy – or just of credit being readily available again, despite the collapse of the Chinese yuan in June, and the bottom falling out of the oil market just last month. Luxury purchases have been predominantly safe over the past few years: things like little black handbags by Chanel or polished leather Birkins from Hermès. The former don’t release figures, but the latter saw turnover jump by 20 per cent in the first half of 2015. And yet the runaway hit of December, according to e-commerce platform Lyst, was the brightly coloured, oddly shaped Loewe “Puzzle” bag – in terms of social media mentions, browser searches and, of course, sales. Definitely not a safe choice.
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