Chunky boots, unorthodox shapes of bags, leather-padded shoulders, turtle necks, puffer jackets and windbreakers in bold colours, and snug woollen fits made up for most of the Louis Vuitton Women’s Pre-Fall 2023 Collection that showcased in Seoul, South Korea this summer. The collection was just like Seoul’s weather that day, unpredictable.
Once the light rains stopped in the city, the best of the fashion world gathered under the evening sky, as the sun set over the Han river. The iconic Jamsugyo bridge echoed with traditional Korean music and songs by K-pop stars. The blue lighting, stark and almost eerie, reminded us of an episode of Squid Game. And rightly so.
The visual resemblance to the 2021 Netflix series was expected—its director Hwang Dong-hyuk served as the creative advisor for the fashion show. The connection didn’t end there, with the series’ Korean stars Wi Ha-joon and HoYeon Jung in attendance too, and Jung opening the show dressed in a royal blue windcheater tucked into an A-line leather skirt, holding an XL Alma bag in cherry red.
The oversized theme spilled off the runway and into the front row looks—Wi Ha-joon was dressed head-to-toe in black—he paired an oversized blazer layered over a t-shirt with culottes and combat boots. Kpop group New Jeans member and Louis Vuitton brand ambassador Hyein also donned an oversized jacket and knee-high red leather boots, Mingyu of boy band Seventeen paired his black-and-white floral jacket with billowy black pants, and actor Lee Sung-kyung chose a white A-line dress featuring an over-the-top ruff collar.
The French luxury house chose South Korea as its venue because the country has long served as a muse for luxury goods giants, in part due to the growing demand for premium brands. South Koreans are the world’s biggest spenders on personal luxury goods—as per a Morgan Stanley report released earlier this year, their total spending on personal luxury goods grew 24 per cent in 2022 to about ₹26,000 per capita, far more than China (₹4,500) and United States (₹23,000).
The brand has had a longstanding and successful association with Seoul—the first LV store opened in the city in 1991 followed by the first global store in 2000. Since then, the metropolis has been a major source of inspiration—from the “Volez, Voguez, Voyagez” exhibition in 2017 that was dedicated to Louis Vuitton’s heritage and history, to being the setting for the Frank Gehry-designed Louis Vuitton Maison Seoul. And in 2019, the fashion house came out with a special Louis Vuitton Travel Book dedicated to Seoul. Presently, LV has 35 stores in South Korea, of which 18 are in Seoul.
This was also not the only time the capital city of world’s number one luxury buyers, Seoul, happened to be the venue for a luxury fashion house’s show. After the LV Pre-Fall show, the city played host to another luxury house’s cruise show in May 2023, where actress Alia Bhatt made an appearance.
Asia, as a region at large, has been on the radar for many international brands’ venue of choice, starting with Dior’s Pre-Fall 2023 show, the first under the newly appointed creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri that wrapped up in India in March this year. Chanel is also set to return to China with its 2024 Cruise collection slated to be held in Shenzhen in November.
Louis Vuitton is known for staging fashion shows at architecturally significant landmarks around the world, so it’s no surprise that the Jamsugyo bridge, one of Seoul’s most important landmarks, was the brand’s location of choice. In 2016, the modernist Oscar Niemeyer-designed Niterói Contemporary Art Museum in Rio de Janeiro, considered one of the city’s main landmarks, was the site for the Cruise 2017 collection, with the museum’s iconic red ramp acting as a literal red carpet for the attending the show. Then last year, the cavernous stone courtyard of the brutalist masterpiece Sak Institute, by celebrated architect Louis Kahn, turned into a runway for the LV Cruise 2023 collection. This penchant for iconic buildings has a lot to do with Nicolas Ghesquière’s affinity for architecture—the artistic director of women’s collections at the fashion house, is known for setting his Louis Vuitton shows at architectural masterpieces around the world. He’s also known for introducing the concept of cruise collections at LV, which are travel or resort ready-to-wear collections that brands release in between the two fashion shows at Paris.
In a string of firsts, the Pre-Fall 2023 show happens to be Ghesquière’s debut, the first time he has presented women’s wear, and it was also Louis Vuitton’s first-ever Pre-Fall show. The event was also one of the first initiatives from the brand’s new chairman and chief executive officer Pietro Beccari. He was appointed ahead of the Men’s Paris Fashion Week Spring Summer 2024 earlier this year. The looks were a nod to Ghesquière’s earlier collections, featuring a mix of his signature sporty silhouettes and sombre shades with the more in-trend pinstripe coats and wool coats. The collection, which had one foot firmly planted into the past, was apt for the historic location—a bridge that connects two different banks of the city, and is known for being its lifeline.
Source : HarpersBazaar