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30 Apr

Louis Vuitton Stages Monumental Pre-Fall 2023 Show in Seoul

SEOUL — Nicolas Ghesquière has been eyeing South Korea for a while now.

The Louis Vuitton womenswear creative director, who has forged a long-lasting friendship with South Korean actress and brand ambassador Doona Bae, counts the K-thriller “The Host,” also starring Bae, as one in all his favorite movies.

Whereas that film’s sea monster wreaked havoc on the Hangang River, Louis Vuitton’s pre-fall 2023 runway show, staged on the lower deck of the Jamsugyo Bridge overlooking those waters on Saturday evening, created drama of the fierce, fashion kind.

“For Seoulites, [the Jamsugyo Bridge] is a living monument,” said Ghesquière. “It is usually an actual fictional character that’s very present in lots of movies. It’s an inspiring place to stage a show. It’s a real catwalk.”

To amplify the visual impact of the runway, Louis Vuitton enlisted “Squid Game” director Hwang Dong-hyuk to assist construct the scenography for the show.

The lower deck of the bridge, which is a pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare, runs a complete length of 795 meters, slightly lower than half a mile, and Hwang bathed it in dramatic orange and blue light.

“The bridge is an emblem of harmony, between the natural and the urban, coexisting as one,” Hwang explained after the show. “The name of the bridge also means ‘submerge’ in Korea, so the extraordinary weather helped express that feeling higher.”

Hwang said he was initially apprehensive that the night’s wind and rain could be destructive, but because the models walked out with hair flying, he was glad about nature’s “effects on the models.”

In contrast to among the extravagant scenarios in his hit Netflix show “Squid Game,” which was ranked probably the most watched show or movie on Netflix with 1.6 billion hours viewed, Hwang wanted the fashions to face out in a sensible manner, which explains the pared-back stage design. 

“Fashion, like food, is a very powerful element one can imagine and may have in our lives. Nobody can do without it,” Hwang added matter-of-factly.

Emphasizing the necessity to connect the West and the East, Hwang blended traditional South Korean folk music and vintage K-pop tunes with contemporary Western music, weaving together a dynamic soundscape that created a “very natural flow.”

Describing the gathering as a “diplomatic journey,” communicated via the brand’s ever-evolving design lexicon, Ghesquière said he went for “a mixture of moments,” an everlasting theme of his, on the symbolic bridge.

Louis Vuitton Women’s pre-fall 2023 collection In Seoul.

HoYeon Jung, the “Squid Game” star and Louis Vuitton brand ambassador, opened the display, rocking a vivid blue windbreaker with marigold accents and waist-defining zippers. Anchored by a studded leather A-line skirt, Jung might have been making her option to a high-fashion version of the “Squid Game.”

A yellow version of the windbreaker followed, then a red halter jumpsuit cinched by an oversized belt, just like the clothes that masked guards wore within the K-thriller, awash in vintage-inspired hues.

For Louis Vuitton’s first-ever pre-fall runway show, which normally highlights signature brand elements from previous collections, the Seoul presentation continued its celebration of French style and the brand’s most recognizable silhouettes.

The A-line skirt, chunky outerwear, sci-fi-inspired elements, and its latest addition, the supersized buckle, help loosen up the more traditional tailored pieces.

The LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned French maison’s famed monogram and its variations, including a blown-up version of the checkerboard Damier print, were forged onto bodysuits with plunging necklines, puffer jackets and wide-legged pants, while the four-petal flower motif got here to life as a skinny leather belt’s decoration. 

Other elements, corresponding to the blossom star, evolved into streetwear graphics on windbreakers, then manifested as embroidered details on generous stretch twill pants, adding a touch of opulence to the loungewear-inspired evening number.

Recent variations of the chunky Archlight sneaker went hand in hand with the gathering’s ’60s-inspired futuristic outerwear. This time, the sturdy wave-shaped outsole found its way onto mary janes, tennis shoes, gladiators, ankle boots and creepers.

For the finale looks, Ghesquière took his Vuitton girl on a bohemian spin with billowing linen maxiskirts and floor-length pleated jersey dresses, which were paired with fluid lapel-free blazers or embossed tweed frock coats. 

Mini pouches with dangling monogram charms, the Atlantis soft tote, which first appeared within the brand’s fall 2016 collection, got here in a mini format, which can probably be flying off the shelves as soon as they hit the shop floor.

Brand ambassadors including Alicia Vikander, Chloë Grace Moretz, Doona Bae, Jaden Smith and Recent Jeans’ Hyein huddled on the front row beside Hwang and Louis Vuitton’s newly appointed chief executive officer Pietro Beccari, joined by Chinese celebrities Jin Chen and Gong Jun.

Wearing a cropped biker jacket and an identical dress, Vikander was unfazed by the cold and robust winds, chatting with Hwang about her upcoming mystery thriller “Hope” set in Seoul, directed by Na Hong-jin. The forged also includes Vikander’s husband Michael Fassbender, and Jung. 

Wearing a monogrammed vinyl number, Moretz was shivering within the heavy gusts, but Hwang quickly handed her an quick heat pack.

Greater than 30 celebrities, including all members of the K-pop group Le Sserafim, Yuta Nakamoto of the Korean boy band NTC 127, Lee Felix of the boy band Stray Kids, Japanese icon Takuya Kimura’s daughter, the actress Kōki, Chinese actresses Karena Lam and Louise Wong, Australian actress Maia Mitchell, South African actress Thuso Mbedu, “Squid Game” actor Wi Hajun, rapper Kim MingYu, and actress Jung Ryeo-won rubbed their hands and one another’s shoulders within the windy promenade.

They were amongst some 1,600 guests, including 100 local students, who witnessed the “inclusive cultural event” staged by the posh brand.

Though that is the primary time the French luxury powerhouse has staged a pre-collection runway show in South Korea, Louis Vuitton has been steadily growing its presence available in the market for the reason that opening of its first South Korea store in 1991. The French maison currently has 35 stores within the country, with 18 retail locations in Seoul.

Riding the “Hallyu,” or K-culture wave, luxury brands have been doubling down on the South Korean market. Based on Morgan Stanley, South Korea’s luxury market expanded 24 percent to $16.8 billion in 2022, with spending per capita almost six times that of the Chinese.

To further forge its ties with the country, Louis Vuitton has pledged to work closely with the Seoul metropolitan government to assist preserve the biodiversity of the Hangang River. 

A partnership with the Korea Tourism Organization will aim to revitalize local tourism, which remains to be recovering from the pandemic. Recapturing Chinese tourists, who account for a notable amount of the country’s GDP, is viewed as a vital element in boosting Korean tourism. Starting this fall, the submersive bridge will likely be was a weekend hangout spot through the Jamsugyo Bridge Festival, where visitors can enjoy browsing the Louis Vuitton Book Kiosk, amongst other local vendors.

For the show’s finale, arcs of water were shot from nozzles positioned on the highest layer of the bridge. After the show, guests repaired to the nearby Floating Island, a glass-structured architectural marvel built atop the Hangang River. 

Celebrities and Ghesquière’s crew, including his former right-hand woman Natacha Ramsay-Levi, danced the night away as Le Sserafim and Jaden Smith performed on stage.

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