My love for Louis Vuitton began when I was a little girl. I remember my grandmother carrying her classic monogram bag and even then thinking that she was the perfect beauty. I did not know what the "LV" logo meant at the time, but I instinctively understood that it was special. When Marc Jacobs took the helm as the creative director of the French design house in 1997, I started dreaming of a day when I might be able to carry the brand myself. With Jacobs reaching out to artists like Richard Prince, Takashi Murakami and most recently Yayoi Kusama, the designer deftly re-modernized the LV monogram with each of these collaborations. The beauty of Vuitton is that it remains true to the DNA of the brand while simultaneously innovating and evolving.
When Louis Vuitton asked me to attend their Fall/Winter 2012 runway show this summer in Shanghai, I was beside myself. As I watched a custom built train pull into the venue (fresh from its journey all the way from Paris), populated with exquisite models and their Belle Epoque glamour I was taken aback by the power of the brand.
Fast forward four months later and I find myself in another breathtaking venue: the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris for Vuitton's Spring/Summer 2013 show. It is Wednesday morning and after sneaking into the back entrance, I am met with handsome servers offering espressos accessorized with slivers of lemon and miniature eggs topped with caviar. Like the Chanel show, paparazzi are mobbing the star-studded front row but the LV tent is much more intimate than the air-y Grand Palais. By contrast, Jacobs has tapped the artist Daniel Buren to install his famous work Les Deux Plateaux, featuring columns arranged in a grid and four escalators spilling onto a white-and-yellow chessboard runway.
I plop down next to Virginie Courtin-Clarins, who in my mind is indisputably one of the most chic and savvy French women in all of Paris. Considering that Paris is known for their impossibly chic women, this statement says a lot -- this girl has style and brains in spades. After a rigorous stint at France's most elite business school, Virginie ('Vivi' to her friends at @vivicourtin to her Instagram followers) is being groomed to take over the family business at the beauty brand, Clarins. When I ask her what she expects out of the show, Virginie replies: "The Vuitton shows are always an extraordinary experience. For 10 minutes, you are transported to a parallel universe!" When the escalators start churning and checkered Vuitton beauties descend onto the equally checkered runway two-by-two, my eyes struggle to take it all in.
I have to agree with Virginie -- the combination of tulle trousers with transparent checkers is a definite favorite. When an army of Vuitton girls pours down the escalators all at once for the grand finale, I see the cohesiveness and strength of the collection. It is all about graphic, strong shapes and a 1960s sensibility. I love the uniformity of the collection, and am especially pleased to see low, square-toed satin pumps make their way down the runway. After running around during Paris Fashion Week in Vuitton padlock low heels I'm a total convert: au revoir sky-high pumps (for now)!
When I catch up with the golden-haired Virginie after the show she gushes: "I totally identified with the collection because I'm always 'in duo' with my sister, Claire, and we both wear lots of jumpsuits and long skirts... I would say this collection is very simply perfect!" I couldn't have said it better myself. Simply, perfect. After seeing so many shows this season, I am happy to end my fashion month on a défilé that feels effortless and exceptional at the same time.
As I stroll out of the Louvre, Vuitton handbag hooked on my arm, I think of my grandmother's classic brown monogrammed 'LV' bag. Now I have one of my own, suited for my personality -- the all-black design is sleeker, sexier and more modern, but the magic hasn't faded a bit.
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