Louis Vuitton’s Monte Carlo Cruise

For Chanel, Mr. Lagerfeld chose Dubai, and for Dior, Mr. Simons went to Brooklyn, New York. But closing the grand trilogy of Parisian extravagance for the cruise 2015 season-between-seasons, Nicolas Ghesquière looked a little closer to home. Over the weekend, the French designer showed his first ever Cruise collection for the house of Louis Vuitton in Monte Carlo, the Mediterranean jewel of the Monegasque crown.

The diplomatic ties that bind Vuitton to the jetset seaside principality run deep, with stories spanning over a century of bespoke creation for the royal family. Princess Charlene and Prince Albert hosted Saturday’s runway show on the grounds of the 700-year-old Prince’s Palace. Arriving via the winding roads of the old city in the waning afternoon light, one was greeted with the first of many calculated contrasts: the show’s venue, a modernist cube jutting out in front of the Italian Renaissance palace like a futuristic summer pavilion. Inside, iconic “Amphys” sofas by late French designer Pierre Paulin snaked in wavy lines across the glass-cubed flooring, which itself jumped to life as the show began, thanks to a rockpool video loop by Parisian video artist Ange Leccia.

Leccia shot the show’s teaser postcards, too—the first clues to an underwater and coastal theme that threaded its way through the collection from the coral-coloured ruffles of a python blouson to the ramage embroidery creeping over hyper-colored skirts and sundresses in leather and lace. Those pieces walked their way down and around the intimate runway on a cast of tussle-haired sirens, the first of whom walked to the jarring click of a mechanical grey curtain that encircled the venue, closing the 300-odd invitees into Ghesquière’s singular world. Seed-beading, tinsel-spiked belts, and curling fronds of lace formed a crucial chapter of this embellished wardrobe, in a silhouette that evolved from Fall’s zip collars and trapeze minis with a relaxed sense of flou. Any fear of vintage flashback was quashed in an instant, with Ghesquière’s separates artfully jarred with graphic stripes and keyhole cut-outs, his aquarelle print coatdresses overlaid with leather lapels and an abundance of press studs. Like urban intruders in his aquatic world, a series of flared trousers and tailored suits in scuba textiles held a clinically ‘70s edge. “Fabric is worked hard, sharp, with a Bohemian allure,” said the designer.

On the accessories front (an all-important piste chez Vuitton), handbag maestro Darren Spaziani flexed his creative muscle to delicious effect, with the instant-icon “Petite Maille” clutch from Fall receiving the same undulating spike treatment as waist-cinching belts. Checked frame purses came in nautical colours, and others again debuted a new LV logo with a cartoon edge. On a sonic side note, despite copyright issues prompting an unfortunate track swap for post-livestream viewing, those present in the flesh experienced sound designer Michel Gaubert’s entrancing ambient electro soundtrack, led by a Robyn vs. Röyksopp exclusive titled “Monument.” It was never a word we’d associate with a cruise collection. Until now that is.