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Level 2: Louis Vuitton, Takashi Murakami and Nicolas Ghesquière’s love affair with Eclair Farron

Nicolas Ghesquière’s love affair with Eclair Farron

When Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton started the collaboration with the contemporary Japanese artists Takashi Murakami[10] in 1997, it was more than an exquisite example of artification.

For Stefania Masè and Elena Cedrola, in their book, Fashion Branding and Communication[11], the 13-year relationship between the French Luxury brand and the Japanese contemporary artist is an art-based strategy utilized in order to communicate an image of exclusiveness and prestige for luxury brands. Allow me to say that it was much more than this. It has represented the recognition of manga and anime[12] as elements of Luxury. Murakami transformed the famously recognisable LV monogram bags and accessories in his distinctive colour palette and cartoonesque like style and manga inspired characters that appealed to a younger clientele and those familiar with the manga universe.

In fact, exploring the links between traditional printmaking techniques and Japanese manga in post-war society, Murakami’s art[13] acted as a cultural barometer. “My aesthetic sense was formed at a young age by what surrounded me: the narrow residential spaces of Japan and the mental escapes from those spaces that took the forms of manga and anime”[14]. Imagine then the younger customers of that generation, those who were born among manga, and watching anime on TV, having the opportunity to choose between the timeless bag that could have been worn by their mothers, or the new collaboration bag, linked with their passion, reflecting the spirit of the time.

Nicolas Ghesquière’s love affair with Eclair Farron. In the same direction, capturing the spirit of the time and the charm of novelty, I invite you to analyse the “love affair” between Nicolas Ghesquière and Eclair Farron. For those who are familiar with the Luxury Industry, Nicolas Ghesquière is the artistic director of women’s collections at Louis Vuitton. But who is Éclair Farron, also known as Claire Farron?

She is a young woman, with wavy rose-pink hair and pale aqua eyes. Also known as Lightning, she is often described as “determined, concentrated, and independent”[15]. All those characteristics are used to describe one of the main characters -a heroine- of a video game. Yes. Are you surprised? For those born at the beginning of the 80s, Final Fantasy was a name often conspicuous, among video gamers. It also became a movie in 2001: the first photorealistic computer-animated feature film and was the most expensive video game-inspired film until the release of Prince of Persia in 2010.[16]

Why am I referring to Éclair Farron as if she exists in real life? The reply is simple: just watch the first look of the LV Fashion Show SS16:

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

The model Fernanda Ly [17], opening the show, is the exact recreation (Is she a cosplayer? Possibly yes, possibly no?) of Lightning. But this time, instead of dressing in the familiar Lightning costume with which all the players are familiar, for your information, she has the most extensive set of outfits in the video game series, if compared to the other heroes and characters, she is wearing a look designed for and inspired by her. Shall we call this, a love declaration from the fashion director of one of the most influential luxury brands of the world? Mr Ghesquière announced this collaboration via his personal Instagram account, presenting Lightning as a “model in flesh and bones”, from Dec 2015.

nicolasghesquiere x eclair farron

Thanks to this inspiration, Lightning came to life on fashion magazines that not only hosted the advertising campaign, but also interviewed her[18]. As the model for the “Series 4” [19], Lightning appeared in various magazine advertisements and starred in promotional videos for the campaign. She became the new face of Louis Vuitton all over social media, being photographed by Bruce Weber. https://uk.louisvuitton.com/eng-gb/articles/series-4-lightning-a-virtual-heroine

John Lennon once reflected that the Beatles were as popular as Christ[20]. Given their increasing renown, you can bet that Mario, Lara Croft, Pac-Man, Pokémon will be celebrated as the Beatles. If not already. These and many other figures from digital culture, whether charming, violent, mechanical, newcomers, will all be part of our lives and they are already loved. What about your animal cross f.i.?

Coming back to this first collaboration between digital characters (digital model?) and the luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton Mr. Ghesquière noted, the inspiration for the Spring/Summer collection came from the intersection of “our lives online and our real lives”[21]. This explains the choice of pushing further the boundaries of what is considered “real” vs what is supposed to be “unreal”. Lightning is more real than ever, thanks to this campaign: or not? The doubt might arise when the brand decided to shoot the campaign of SS16 not only on Eclair Farron, but also on Korean actress Doona Bae[22]. This time, photographed under the lens of Juergen Teller[23]. The fashion designer also included references to anime, sci-fi movies and Minecraft in the visual-heavy show: if you are asking yourself where or how: it was all about the sound design of the fashion show, which included the Minecraft[24] teaser theme as well as Tron Legacy original motion picture soundtrack by Daft Punk[25].

I agree with Prof. Luciano Floridi, who introduced the concept of “onlife” [26] reality rather than a distinction between “online and offline”. In every department of life, ICT’s have become environmental forces which are creating and transforming our realities. So why should fashion surprise us by adopting the new language of videogames and merging it in contemporary society? In this interview for Dazed, Nicholas Ghesquière said: “I was thinking about this digital frontier, which I wanted to combine in harmony with the world of Louis Vuitton – the craft, the wardrobe. It’s an evocation of cyber, of what comes from digital – these characters or girls that are speaking to their generation”[27].

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References:
10. https://www.artnews.com/art-news/market/louis-vuitton-ends-its-13-year-relationship-with-takashi-murakami-4584/
11. Stefania Masè and Elena Cedrola in Fashion Branding and Communication (2017), B. Jin, E. Cedrola.
12. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/anime
13. https://www.fondationlouisvuitton.fr/en/collection/artists/takashi-murakami
14. http://www.artnet.com/artists/takashi-murakami/
15. https://finalfantasy.fandom.com/wiki/Lightning_(Final_Fantasy_XIII)
16. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/most-expensive-film-inspired-by-a-video-game
17. https://i-d.vice.com/en_uk/article/j58gb8/10-things-you-need-to-know-about-fernanda-ly
18. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/fashion/people/final-fantasy-character-lightning-on-starring-in-louis-vuitton-c/ and https://wwd.com/business-news/media/louis-vuitton-spring-ad-final-fantasy-jaden-smith-10303725/
19. For Series 4, I refer to the fourth campaign of Louis Vuitton by Nicolas Ghesquière. Everything started with Series 1 https://eu.louisvuitton.com/eng-e1/articles/series-1-fashion-films-first-opus and of course the Series 4 I mentioned: https://www.lvmh.com/news-documents/news/httpwww-lvmh-comnews-documentsnewsseries-4-the-new-louis-vuitton-ad-campaign/
20. http://www.beatlesinterviews.org/db1966.1213.beatles.html
21. https://observer.com/2015/12/louis-vuittons-latest-muse-is-from-the-final-fantasy-franchise/
22. Doona Bae had her first cover on Vogue US for the April 2019 issue. https://www.instagram.com/p/BvBNKkMAOm3/?utm_source=ig_embed
23. https://www.instagram.com/p/_4Ms59K4aF/?utm_source=ig_embed
24. For those who are not familiar with Minecraft, it is a videogame about building things, in which creativity is central. Since it first emerged in May 2009, when it was called Cave Game. The gamer can place block and build three-dimensional structures -their perfect alignment recalling Lego- but with infinite pieces. “Since then, the game has developed in many ways. Builders have formed an industry of professional space-makers who earn a living out of creating worlds”. Wiltshire, A., (2018).
25. The most known song from the movie soundtrack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4cgLL8JaVI
26. Luciano Floridi, The Fourth Revolution. How the Infosphere is Reshaping Human Reality, 2014.
27. https://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/article/28976/1/louis-vuitton-casts-video-game-character-in-new-campaign Dec. 2015.

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Fashion and Gaming: How Luxury Fashion Brands Use Gamification

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