At Louis Vuitton Cruise 2024, a Celebration of the Life Aquatic
Isola Bella on Lake Maggiore served as site and inspiration for Nicolas Ghesquière’s first presentation in Italy.
Italy’s Lake Maggiore has always been the more low-key neighbor to the celebrity-filled Lake Como, just as beautiful, but less noisy, more understated, the coded luxury equivalent to Como’s logomania, perhaps. But this weekend, the storied Isola Bella, located in Lake Maggiore just south of the Swiss Alps, dipped its toe into the world of celebrities, high fashion, and flashing cameras, as it hosted Louis Vuitton’s 2024 cruise show. On Wednesday evening, Nicolas Ghesquière invited guests of the house to a presentation at the island’s palace, owned by the dynastic Borromeo family since the 16th century. The plan was for guests to watch as models stalked through the pebbled paths of its baroque gardens that Edith Wharton once compared to a Renaissance poem. Unfortunately, mother nature had other ideas, and downpours moved the presentation inside where it could be enjoyed without the threat of rain.
Ironically, much of Ghesquière’s collection was created to withstand the exact weather that plagued the presentation. Inspired by the show’s setting, the designer presented an array of aquatic looks, many rendered in waterproof neoprene. The models called to mind sea creatures emerging from Lake Maggiore, with pleated fins protruding from underarms and necks, and goggles ready for deep sea diving. Some showed off elaborate headpieces of feathers and King Triton crowns, while others donned their underwater finds with the help of jewel-decorated tops. Per the show notes, the offering’s aim is to “give rise to contemporary tales, populated by drifting creatures that abandon aquatic dwellings for the discovery of terrestrial wonders.”And indeed, one couldn’t help but consider Ariel and her six sisters as models in sheer dresses appeared on the runway to close out the show, their swinging skirts providing lightness to the collection.
Per usual, celebrity guests were in abundance, undeterred by the rain. After showing off many sustainable Louis Vuitton looks at Cannes last week, Cate Blanchett took the short flight over to Northern Italy and attended the show in a knee-length gray dress with a plunging neckline and a completely open back. She was joined by other Louis Vuitton ambassadors, including Alicia Vikander, Emma Stone, and Jennifer Connelly. The most unexpected guest, however, was Oprah, who arrived in a belted off-white shirt dress with matching pants, and posed for photos alongside Gayle King and Ava Duvernay.
A pre-taped video allowed those not in attendance to experience what could have been—a mythical fashion display among the historic Borromeo gardens—but the reality proved the collection is just as amphibious in nature to the creatures that inspired the clothing. They work by the water, on land, and upon many a future red carpet as well.