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The Niterói Contemporary Art Museum—a saucer-shaped futuristic landmark on the cliffside of Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro—was designed in 1996 by Oscar Niemeyer. Little did Niemeyer know, that 20 years later, his striking design would be the backdrop for Maison Louis Vuitton’s 2017 Cruise collection.
To begin, the museum’s entranceway, adorned with a bright orange-red runway, poured out models to the beat of an eerie tune. With each curve of the runway, models flaunted bright colors and patterns on an array of dresses, sneakers, and skirts until they reached the museum’s reflecting pool base.
For the collection’s starting point, Louis Vuitton turned to Brazilian idealism and Rio for inspiration, seeking to capture Brazil’s energy, freedom, and romanticism. That dynamic was encapsulated in a variety of head-turning pieces: Mini handheld Speakerbox trunks; futuristic sneakers and sandals with color-blocking straps, ties, and closures; side-slit skirts with drawstrings with the classic crossed “LV” logo; front-to-back asymmetrical crop tops with layers of ruffles showing deep side openings; and gleaming, shimmery, and shiny striped skirts, bucket bags, thin scarves, modern fanny packs, wrap bracelets, statement rings, parka jackets, strapless pocket dresses, and black backpacks.
The collection also gave a nod to visual artist Helio Oiticica, a pioneer for the Neo-Concrete movement who explored space through painting and colorful 3-D works, and Aldemir Martins, known for his flora and fauna paintings.
Said designer Nicolas Ghesquiére, “Being able to show a fashion collection in such an architecturally powerful space is a sensorial experience. In Rio de Janeiro, what I saw most of all was movement and an explosive energy that lives somewhere between modernism and tropicality. I was fascinated by the constant duality between nature and urbanism and the pictorial explosion it creates. For me, the main question was how to incorporate into my collection all these elements that are part of Brazilian culture, without forgetting that I am just a visitor who brings his own Parisian and French cultural references to the moment.”