On Saturday, the French invasion of the tropics continued with Louis Vuitton’s Rio de Janeiro Cruise show. Much like Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel presentation in Cuba, Nicolas Ghesquière’s extravagant resort runway elicited mixed emotions from the international community. As we mentioned in our coverage of the Olympic uniforms, Brazil is in the midst of fighting the mosquito-borne Zika epidemic, political upheaval and economic malaise, all while struggling to prepare for the upcoming summer games. In the wake of a horrific crime last week, the country has also been thronged with protests over violence against women.
Nevertheless, Ghesquière barreled forward with his historic show (Louis Vuitton is the first European brand to show in Brazil). According to the artistic director, when things are bad is exactly when you want to demonstrate your support — and that the French fashion house did. The execution of the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum-based spectacle employed thousands of local workers in the weeks leading up to the event and bolstered tourism by bringing in hundreds of guests (not to mention Vuitton team members) from countries all over the world and showing them the local sites. To top it off, LV is also bankrolling four of the Niterói’s upcoming exhibitions.
Still, the off-screen backdrop of Rio’s favelas does seem a cruel contrast to the luxury of what was sure to have been a multimillion-dollar fête. Ghesquière, like Lagerfeld, noted that the native Brazilians living in the slum would be able to view the show en plein air from their rooftops and balconies. Although they would not be pre-ordering some reimagined gladiator sandals for summer, “They can dream about it,” said Michael Burke, Louis Vuitton’s chief executive. “We give them that dream. And one day they will be able to buy it.”
Just…all of the cringes.
Let’s now turn the conversation to something far more pleasant — the clothes themselves. As A-listers like Alicia Vikander, Zendaya, Catherine Deneuve and Jaden Smith watched, Nicolas Ghesquière’s tropical-meets-urban collection made its way down the colorful, winding catwalk that was the entranceway of the Niterói. Highlights of the line, which boldly touted the influence of both Brazil and the Summer Olympics, included body-conscious cutout frocks reminiscent of Taylor Swift’s Met Gala attire, flowing colorblocked maxis that could have been fashioned from scuba suits, ruched parachute dresses, magnificent windbreakers in teals and tangerines, sequined scarfs, borrowed-from-the-boys basketball shorts we will be styling with tank tops and heels and in the realm of wearable tech: fully functional Bluetooth boombox bags.
As with Chanel, Latin ruffles and energetic prints abound (Aldemir Martins designed a Pelé-inspired motif for the collection). Again, as with Chanel, guests, models (Mica Arganaraz, Julia Nobis, Kiki Willems, Natalie Westling) and more capped off the night’s festivities with an apropos musical performance — this time samba, this time in Rio’s Parque Lage.
Of the chic, athleisure-filled collection, Ghesquière said, “I think what defines our time is that women want to look sophisticated and they want casual sports clothes—those are the two big obsessions.” Finally, something we all can agree on.
Click through the slideshow above to take in all the action.