Louis Vuitton fashion show held at San Diego's Salk Institute.

May 29, 2022

Runway Shutterstock 381470320 Cropped

To host a global brand runway fashion show is one of the greatest honors a city can receive. Not a trunk show, mind you, or an in-store runway; I’m talking about an extravaganza of epic proportion. The site selection is just as critical as the garments themselves, sometimes more important. I say this because the power of the environment can evoke a perfect aesthetic and message to the consumer. So we should all be proud that Louis Vuitton, the largest luxury brand on the planet, chose San Diego. And our beloved Salk Institute as the outdoor theater to debut Cruise 2023. 

As Laundress Lucca sees it, Cruise is the hump season for the fashion industry. It dangles spring just out of reach for the common man. It puts you in the mood but is merely a tease for those snowed in for winter. As such, the wealthy head south to warmer climes. With Thanksgiving in Vermont, Christmas in Montecito, New Years on St. Barts, and Aspen at the end of January, poor dears, by the time February rolls around, they just really need a break. That’s when Palm Beach, Palm Springs, Scottsdale, and La Jolla really boom with the well-to-do. 

Back to the show...Front Row center was, of course, Laundress Lucca, who has stood in awe of the Salk Institute since birth. Imposing, sterile, and austere are the poured concrete laboratories. Yet, the interior courtyard is warm and interacts with the constantly changing atmosphere. With an approaching sunset, Dusty pink stonework warms the severity of the rugged sandstone cliffs and vast expanse of the Pacific beyond. In spite of the institute’s brutalist exterior that lacks adornment or human scale, the interior is comforting and melodic. Weird juxtaposition, but it’s true. The other thing to note was the marriage of tasteful, minimalist architecture and a global luxury brand, sometimes known for its flash and commercial adornment, worked flawlessly. Louis Vuitton is a brand that is obtainable and shunned by some for its overt label and broad reach, while for most, it’s aspirational and a cherished label they will collect their whole lives. As history has proven, vintage luxury is an entire market of its own that has only aided in brand recognition and sending shoppers, ironically, to full-price stores. Jonas Salk envisioned a space where science and art could intermingle, and he built it in a design partnership with Louis Khan.  

Most seasons are easy to recognize because they have common color schemes, similar fits, and recognizable fabrics. However, he breached all spectrums with designer Gesquiref’s 2023 Cruise collections. 

Themes of Tribal Resistance and Nomadic Extreme collided with Galactic Grunge. At times, the dramatic, billowy goddess robes and oversized draped linen scarves were a bit much and almost costume-like with questionable wearability on the streets. In contrast, those generous caftans set the background for the much more edited and tailored collection that we will actually see people wear. We are talking brightly colored sequined fish-scale tops and skirts, vivid molten lava jacquards, graphic colored crop-tops, tight-fitting jackets, and sneaker booties.  

At times, the collections felt confused and polarized, yet a few accessories traveled with the outfits around the catwalk. Most models wore fabulous bracelets with turquoise inlays, not unlike the superpower wrist shields worn by Wonder Woman. A dynamite long leather black belt appeared around several exposed mid-drifts throughout the show, as did celluloid biker, gold-and-silver metallic knee-high boots. On the opposite end of the spectrum were a fair share of clunky combat boots worn with short silky skirts. The piece de resistance was a gold-lame sweatpants, soon to be on a celebrity Instagram page if it’s not already posted. Wrap-around sunglasses are back with gold and silver lenses mimicking the severity of Mad Max. All these elements came together in a flirty dominatrix sort of way.   

Laundress Lucca couldn’t help but note that there were two guests that were at the party, but never appeared in the show; breasts, boobs, or tits. Some were entirely shrouded beneath Prairie-Chick capes or a Bridesmaid-Burlap stole. Albatross-like shoulder pads dripped with fringy lace, and leather straps helped further conceal others. Still, the rest were hidden by sleeveless box-tops showing no contour whatsoever. All that money on breast augmentation when Louis Vuitton wants them stuffed in a box. Perhaps the androgynous models took the look one step too far, but that’s the world we live in. 

And the bags and totes! Now, this is what LV is really known for, and they didn’t disappoint. Cubist lapis totes with shimmering embroidery were a frequent guest. As were soft duffels shrouded with aluminum casing, the perfect size for packing heat for that global assassin look. Even the clutches celebrated the aluminum, leather, and steel severity. One model sported a four-foot-long skateboard emblazoned in shimmering metallic LV as a nod towards San Diego’s Sequin-Skater culture. That skateboard will never touch pavement. 

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LV is a brand that creates trends, while others borrow certain aspects for their own interpretation. Now, take yourself out of the ethereal fantasy of a fashion show and look forward to a much more affordable translation on racks and shelves next winter. As Laundress Lucca always says about runway couture, if you can’t afford it, wait till next season. What does all this have to do with Absolutely nothing. Except, when you have an international, jet-setting party-girl like Laundress Lucca as your columnist, you never know what’s next. In her eyes, all fabric eventually becomes laundry, so couture is just laundry in the making. 


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