I'd argue that no other designer appreciates the convergence of architecture and fashion like Nicolas Ghesquière of Louis Vuitton. Past locations for the brand's Cruise shows include architectural landmarks like the futuristic Niterói Contemporary Art Museum in Rio de Janeiro and a Palm Springs estate designed by the legendary John Lautner. For Cruise 2023, Louis Vuitton returned to California, but this time closer to the ocean—well, actually, perched directly on top of crashing waves—at the Salk Institute in San Diego.
I was born and raised in San Diego and return often, so I was particularly ecstatic about the location choice. How often do I get to work from my childhood bedroom in the morning and go to a Louis Vuitton show at night? Not very. Below, I've detailed everything you should know about the magical event that surpassed all of my expectations.
As a scientific research facility, the Salk Institute is typically all lab coats and no LV logos, but that changed for one special night in May. It was designed by Louis Kahn in 1965 and is a famous example of brutalist architecture, which is characterized by the use of concrete, harsh angles, and large-scale structures.
Nothing about the Cruise 2023 show was an accident. The event was perfectly timed with the sunset, which cast a dreamy glow on the stark concrete scene, and the collection was specifically designed to reflect the setting sun. Or, as the press release more eloquently states, "the unique light of the West Coast created prisms on clothes full of reflections." Songs from the American band Sparks formed the soundtrack, including "The Number One Song in Heaven" from 1979.
The institute was founded by Dr. Jonas Salk, who invented the polio vaccine—an apt tie-in to the world's current state of affairs considering that an event of this size would never have occurred without the COVID-19 vaccine.
With some silhouettes reminiscent of UFOs, the futuristic designs set against an ombré sky reminded me of the lyrics from one of my favorite Neil Young songs: "I dreamed I saw the silver spaceships flying in the yellow haze of the sun." Is that on the nose or what?
The Celebrity Attendees
Naturally, Louis Vuitton brought the fashion crowd along to San Diego. Many of the stars that LV dressed for the Met Gala earlier this month were out in full force for the Cruise show, including Gemma Chan, Phoebe Dynevor, and Chloë Grace Moretz. Bollywood star Deepika Padukone was also in attendance, hot off the heels of her appointment as the brand's first ambassador from India. Director Ava DuVernay and Anna Wintour also rounded out the lengthy guest list.
Gemma Chan and Anna Wintour
Iris Apatow, Leslie Mann, and Maude Apatow
Emma Roberts, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Ana de Armas
Phoebe Dynevor and Urassaya Sperbund
The New Bags
Leave it to Louis Vuitton to make "damaged" goods look impossibly cool. Most of us go to great pains to avoid denting our luggage, so the brand's newest design is certainly unexpected but will no doubt be hugely popular come 2023. "A new bag from Nicolas Ghesquière’s collection brings hallmarks of the maison's historic trunks to a soft leather design," the brand said in a statement. Another new bag, the Petite Valise, combines the iconic LV monogram with mirrored details and industrial hardware.
No, the Louis Vuitton Cruise show did not have any Hadids or Jenners walking the runway. Instead, it offered something even better: a delightfully unexpected cast of models that included double-amputee Lauren Wasser flaunting her golden prosthetic legs, 18-year-old Olympic skier Eileen Gu, and Olympic track star Dalilah Muhammad.
My Top 10 Favorite Runway Looks
The collection featured a whopping 56 different looks, so it was extremely difficult to narrow it down to my 10 favorites. From draped outfits that looked like they stepped right off the set of Dune to spaceship-worthy metallics, I believe these looks best represent Ghesquière's singular vision and immense artistic talent.
Erin got her start as a Who What Wear intern over 12 years ago—back when the site only published a single story per day. (Who What Wear has since increased that number twentyfold.) She graduated magna cum laude from USC, which is how she ended up moving to Los Angeles from her hometown of San Diego. In college, she also interned at Refinery29, where she was promoted to editorial assistant and then assistant editor. After nearly three years at R29, she came back to WWW in 2016, where she currently holds the title of senior news editor (as well as the unofficial title of resident royal expert—in case you haven't noticed her numerous Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton stories). She spends her days trying to incorporate her idols, Anna Wintour and Roger Federer, into as many stories as possible. Outside of work, she loves tennis, classic rock, traveling, and smothering her dog with affection.
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