Louis Vuitton's Nicolas Ghesquière Does Not Design With One Woman in Mind

The designer also talks about the industry's growing pragmatism and why it's important to be well-versed on the business side of fashion.
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The designer also talks about the industry's growing pragmatism and why it's important to be well-versed on the business side of fashion.
Nicolas Ghesquière at his Paris Fashion Week show for Louis Vuitton earlier this month. Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Nicolas Ghesquière at his Paris Fashion Week show for Louis Vuitton earlier this month. Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Designers are famous for having muses: For Tom Ford and Joseph Altuzarra, it's Carine Roitfeld; for Marc Jacobs, it's Sofia Coppola; Alexander Wang has Erin Wasson and Balmain's Oliver Rousteing has Rihanna. Designing with a specific person in mind can be both inspiring and provide some helpful boundaries.

But Nicolas Ghesquière, who has already shown three collections for Louis Vuitton since he was appointed creative director a year ago, says he does not design for the brand with one specific woman -- or even a specific type of woman -- in mind. Speaking at WWD's Apparel and Retail CEO Summit dinner on Monday evening, Ghesquière said that having a specific woman would be "too restrictive." Louis Vuitton, he said, is many women. That's why he enlisted three photographers -- Bruce Weber, Annie Leibovitz and Juergen Teller -- to shoot a range of icons, including Charlotte Gainsbourg, Freja Beha Erichsen, Liya Kebede and Jean Campbell, for his first campaign for the brand.

His goal with Louis Vuitton's growing (and much lauded) ready-to-wear collection, he added, is not to overthrow or revolutionize a woman's wardrobe, but to "look deep into a woman's wardrobe" for what's missing. "I know it's ambitious," he said modestly. "But Louis Vuitton, being the biggest brand in the world, it's quite appropriate."

Ghesquière said he believes there is greater pragmatism in fashion these days, and that it's "important for a designer to embrace the corporate side." But he acknowledges, too, that there are cycles -- and perhaps a freer, less pragmatic mood will soon prevail. He said he does not think creativity is hurt by being aware of the business mechanics. "It makes you aware of the world, so you can grow quicker."