On the red carpet, finally, something new, courtesy of Nicolas Ghesquiere at Louis Vuitton
I’m not overwhelmingly interested in celebrity dressing. Is anyone, really? The rounds of premieres, awards-shows and television appearances are relentless – every country has its own launch for a film, a television programme, a magazine, a cereal. And every launch has an outfit. Bar a few celebrities with emblematic style (Kate Moss) or hefty endorsement deals (Jennifer Lawrence in Dior, obviously), what they wear is mostly forgettable. Just like so much of fashion today is forgettable. There’s a surfeit of stuff. Most of it is anodyne, rehashed, dull and unnecessary. Why would I be interested in that?
Nevertheless, there was something about Jennifer Connelly’s outfit for the NYC Noah premiere – the first custom dress created by Nicolas Ghesquiere for Louis Vuitton – that felt worthy of comment. Namely, how different it looks. And how modern.
The dress was based on a look shown on the Vuitton catwalk earlier this month. I heard a few naysayers sniping that that Vuitton show was far too “real” and “ordinary” to be remarkable. But the realness is what makes it remarkable. It was, really, the only way Ghesquiere could wipe the slate clean and establish his own identity for the brand.
If Marc Jacobs’ final Vuitton show was inspired by Cher, showgirls and the glittering, artificiality of surface, Ghesquiere’s opening gambit was bathed in natural light, and looked like anything the girl on the street could wear. It’s a triumph of the not-really-normal. These are quiet clothes, clothes that don’t assert their presence. Or at least, don’t feel the need to.
Those “ordinary” clothes look exceptional up close. I went to Paris, to the Louis Vuitton showroom, to see this collection in detail last week. There’s something startling about them, about the texture of the knits and embroideries, the odd way seams curve around the body, making affecting the way the dresses sit even on the hanger. There’s an intriguing three dimensionality to their structure. It’s subtle, but definite.
It’s exciting to see the not-really-normal, rather than the ho-hum Hollywood razzmatazz thing, in a red carpet context. The length, the fact the dress covers every inch from neck to knee, and the slightly sick combination of varnished leather and boucle tweed. It all registers as alien, and exciting. Which is interesting because this dress isn’t all that unusual, other than the context in which we see it. That is the important thing about it. It’s also what makes it seem like a brave, bold choice in a sea of neo-fifties strapless sheaths.
That bland, near-ubiquitous shape is the safe, polite, get-out-of-E!-free card that stylists have been deploying over the past couple of years to negate decision-making. It throws back to mid-century couture, to ideas of fashion that everyone can recognise and read.
Most dresses we see on the red carpet are road sign fashion: they tell you, big and bold, what you need to know, with no depth to the message. They’re made to be read easily while whizzing past at seventy miles per hour (in an online gallery, admittedly, rather than on the M25). When you’ve passed them, they’re forgotten. Which is arguably better for the star than making the Daily Mail Sidebar of Shame. After all, if everyone has the same silhouette, it’s harder to distinguish between them, and also to pick on one person to criticise.
I’m sure this outfit will be criticised. Because it looks different – and so many people, even today, are afraid of that.Tagged in: autumn/winter 2014, Jennifer Connelly, Louis Vuitton, Nicolas Ghesquiere, Noah, red carpet
Recent Posts on Fashion
- Fashion's musical chairs commence anew, as Christophe Lemaire leaves Hermes
- A little bit of history repeating: something old makes something new, at Raf Simons' Dior and Karl Lagerfeld's Chanel
- Chinese Whispers at Versace, Frankenstein's Monster at Schiaparelli. Haute couture autumn/winter 2014
- Miu Miu gets trippy, Mary Katrantzou loves letters, Roland Mouret throws up. A last look at pre-spring 2015
- Creativity, commerce, and choking tradition: Dior Homme, Hermes, Loewe, Thom Browne in Paris
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter