In re-exploring “French style,” Nicolas Ghesquière revisits his first collection and his first highlight bag with Louis Vuitton
“My work never comes from a single source of inspiration, it’s more a sum of ideas, a mixed bag of images and concepts,” says Nicolas Ghesquière. “There’s a successive strata of things that have made an impression on me personally, to which I’m attached, and that can illustrate my idea, among others, of a French signature.”
This notion of Louis Vuitton’s women’s artistic director can be seen throughout the French fashion brand’s Fall-Winter 2023 collection, of which the GO-14 is highlighted once more. The bag is initiatory, one of Ghesquière’s first designs. Hence, its coded name, Ghesquière October 2014, the date it first appeared on the runway for the debut of the women’s artistic director at Louis Vuitton. It is re-emerging in 2023 in full spirit with a unique characteristic: malletage.
The malletage brings in the spirit of historical trunk-making. This refined crisscrossing pattern pads the insides of trunks. The galon trim was a simple ingenuity that kept documents in their place regardless of the twists and turns of traveling. Ghesquière rediscovered this Louis Vuitton innovation and featured it in his first collection, reawakening and revealing this invisible luxury: “There are some universal codes that exist solely in Louis Vuitton. It was about reappropriating and transposing them into a new setting.” He turned it into a striking signature, a graphic design language for clothes and accessories. A narrative thread.
Today, the GO-14 is a generous, sensual padded lambskin bag. It is covered in this bouncy, infinitely soft malletage with overstitching highlighting the design’s curves and cushiony feel. It comes in every shade, from the starkest black and white to the diluted, nuanced, toasted shades that reveal the subtleties of its texture.
The malletage that pads the bag— ever-evolving since the earliest trunks in a quest for enhancement and ultimate elegance—is a real challenge for artisans. The creative process requires more than 20 different steps, including the meticulousness on the patina to ensure a satin or toasted finish and the color’s subtle gradations.
“I really loved being able to express myself within the strict sartorial pro- tocol of a very solemn institution like the Academie Franscaise, which is so emblematic of French culture,” says Ghesquière of the collection as a whole. “So, that’s part of it, the etiquette, the order, and maybe even the ceremony. Our history is based on a certain classicism and conventions that are very much part of the legend of Louis Vuitton, a name that also speaks to French culture. It was about transposing that classicism into a pure expression of fashion. How to articulate that French allure, that blend of sophistication and nonchalance that continues to fascinate the entire world.