The Louvre Hosts Its First Fashion Show for Paris Fashion Week

Louis Vuitton debuted their AW17 collection after the announcement of the new LVMH museum on the Seine.

Models walk the catwalk at The Louvre. Photo BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images

The Louvre hosted its first runway show last night with Nicolas Ghesquière’s AW17 collection for Louis Vuitton debuting in the world-famous museum. As one of the highlights of Paris Fashion Week, which draws journalists, celebrities, and fashion professionals from all over the world, it is not only a win for the Bernard Arnault-owned fashion house but also puts the museum center stage as the world’s press reports on the much-awaited show.

The runway show also came on the heels of an announcement of a second Arnault-built, Frank Gehry-designed museum which will sit on the banks of the Seine and complement his Fondation Louis Vuitton.

It is not unusual for major museums to host fashion shows. The Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum in London has long held large-scale runway presentations during London Fashion Week, both showcasing young designers and as a functioning venue for high-profile brands. But this is the first time the Louvre has opened its doors in such a way.

Chief executive of Louis Vuitton, Michael Burke, told the Financial Times that by staging the show in the museum, with the models walking among the artworks, the fashion brand is helping to rehabilitate the city’s reputation by “promoting brand Paris.”

“People forget that until the 19th century, half of the Louvre was dedicated to industry and craft,” he added. “It wasn’t always about the high art we find on its walls today,” Burke explained.

The collection, according to the head designer Ghesquière, had a social message of unity for the city of Paris.

“My intention is purely to show how migration and multiculturalism have always informed fashion and how it’s all the better for it,” he said. “Paris has always been a welcoming city for fashion and it should remain so. Fashion is a frontier, it should have no borders.”

Whether or not the Louvre will be renting out its hallowed halls every fashion week remains to be seen but fashion collaborations have worked well for the Henry Moore Foundation with Burberry, and through blockbuster shows at the V&A, and Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Despite the museum’s recent struggle with declining visitor figures, it looks as though the Louvre is already getting a taste of the double-edged sword of success. This week staff members have threatened to strike over a lack of preparedness for the popularity of their current exhibition “Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting.” Meanwhile, protesters staged an in-house protest regarding their sponsorship from Total.

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