How Louis Vuitton Transformed an Abandoned JFK Terminal into a Futuristic Fashion World

And made a strong case for wearing metallics for travel.

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For all those fashionistas out there feeling envious of editors and influencers who are flown around the world to see designer cruise shows at this time of year, please note that it’s not all as glamorous as it seems. On Wednesday night, Louis Vuitton chauffeured everyone to see its 2020 collection at … JFK.

Oh, now, it was still pretty amazing – Eero Saarinen’s long abandoned TWA Flight Center terminal, which is being developed into a hotel, was understandably a tempting show venue for artistic director Nicolas Ghesquière, who has previously shown collections in architectural wonders by John Lautner, I.M. Pei, and Oscar Niemeyer. And on this occasion, the space had been transformed with a wonderfully exotic garden of creeping plants and vines that climbed along the soaring cement wings of Saarinen’s 1960s bird-shaped terminal, itself a tribute to the golden age of travel. As Ghesquière said in a press release, “The place was forgotten for 20 years, and has now come back to life.”

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Once the hundreds of guests had arrived, having braved rush hour traffic in Vuitton-sponsored cars and chic black busses (did anyone get offered a Blade?), and the celebrities (Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchett, Emma Stone, Alicia Vikander, Sophie Turner and many more) had been seated, the show began in relatively timely manner, which is itself an accomplishment at JFK. The models walked the length of the terminal several times, winding back and forth through rows of seats, including Saarinen chairs, wearing a collection that featured many obvious references to travel, to New York City, and a more innocent time when it wasn’t so ill-advised to wear metallics to the airport, at least in order to pass through security.

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It’s interesting, as an aside, to note just how energetic and approachable Ghesquière’s cruise collections have been in recent years when compared to his spring and fall ready-to-wear shows. His work for Vuitton, as well as his previous years at Balenciaga, have been defined in part by an embrace of modern architecture and futurism, but his designs often are so far ahead of their times that they appear to expect a bit of a commitment from the consumer. Many do, of course, choose to inhabit his special Vuitton universe, but for more casual visitors, the cruise collections can be far more appealing. This one was fantastic, with clothes inspired by Ghesquière’s earliest impressions of New York City — Wall Street pinstripes on a jaggedly cut pantsuit, silver and gold Deco-ornamented blouses, dresses, and bags that emulated the spire of the Chrysler Building, bomber jackets printed with an illustration of the Manhattan skyline, and, most cleverly, two high-tag bags covered in LED displays playing Vuitton advertisements, like billboards in Times Square. Well, if you can make it here, as they say …

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