Hubert Burda Media

Meet Me In St Louis

At the Louis Vuitton Pre-fall presentation in Hong Kong, it's clear that Nicolas Ghesquière is all about continuity

Meet Me In St Louis

It has been slightly over a year since Nicolas Ghesquière took on the role of artistic director at Louis Vuitton, and it is clear that he has already injected his signature flair into the iconic brand's design codes. With its sharp, slim silhouettes and strong 1970s flavour, Ghesquière's Louis Vuitton has been lauded by critics as “contemporary”, “fresh” and “young”.

Building upon this new brand identity, Ghesquière's first Pre-fall outing for the storied Maison draws upon this same aesthetic. Presented to the Asian media in Hong Kong following its Paris debut at the house's Right Bank headquarters, the collection introduced new pieces as well as reinterpretations of classic ones.

The ready-to-wear range bears a slightly more masculine aesthetic compared to previous seasons and silhouettes are kept clean, tailored and sleek. A more gender neutral colour palette of blue, red, grey, black and brown has also been used. Comprising 15 looks, the collection is centred on the interplay of materials. While the focus continues to be on leathers such as lamb skin, calf suede and glazed shearling, tweed and embellishments are also thrown into the mix for an interesting twist. For a variation in texture within each look, softer fabrics including cashmere, wool, cotton and silk blends are used in cardigans, tops and pants. Borrowing its design cues from the 1970s, eclectic prints and graphic patterns (including florals, dots, stripes and the monogram) are found on everything from silk scarves to twill parkas.

In line with the range's markedly more masculine tone, the shoe selection for Pre-fall mainly consists of boots and chunky heels. Boots come in two heights — the Charlotte Flat Ankle Boot and the Instinct Half Boot — and a range of different materials, including monogram shine, silk tapestry and exotic alligator. The clear star is Flower Field Strap Pump, a pair of block heels crafted in calf leather, trimmed with python skin and hand embroidered with silk flowers. If the style of the shoe looks familiar, it's because it references a previous pair from the brand's Cruise 2015 collection. The heel shape, on the other hand, recalls those used in its Spring/Summer 2015 releases.

It should be noted at this point that Ghesquière often borrows elements from previous seasons and infuses them discreetly into new ones to create a sense of continuity between collections. This is also displayed in the key bags of Pre-fall, such as the Petite-Malle that comes completely covered in sequins. Arranged in a striped or leopard print pattern, this new sequinned finish is inspired by a dress from Spring/Summer 2015 (Look 33). This nuanced association is also displayed in the Alma bag for Pre-fall, which showcases leather patches on its corners in reference to the leather knee patches found on Moto pants from a few seasons back.

Additionally, the house's instantly recognisable Malletage pattern is presented in a shiny patent for the first time, making its appearance in Louis Vuitton's classic bags such as the Dora, Twist and GO-14. The Dora also comes in a new soft leather treatment, making the bag less structured for a relaxed aesthetic.

All that said, the real stunners are the Maison's new Nano bags. These pint-sized wonders mark the fashion house's first foray into nano territory (the smallest Louis Vuitton has ever gone is with its range of mini BB bags), and are available in seven bag shapes, including the Alma, Speedy, Pallas and Noe.