Photograph courtesy of Giovanni Gianonni/Louis Vuitton

Watching the 2023 Louis Vuitton Cruise Show was like watching a stylish sci-fi movie, complete with UFO shoulder pads, Dune-inspired drapes, intergalactic metals, and sensible footwear.

Everyone has their rituals when buying new shoes. Some walk around the store. Others might jump up and down in place. But my friend and I put potential purchases through a “leak test.” What is the leak test, you might ask? It’s about checking whether we can literally run away wearing a new pair of shoes. Run away from what, exactly? Well, that part we haven’t quite figured out. Maybe it’s because of a bad date? Or maybe it’s due to an impromptu alien invasion? Anyway, we are not damsels in distress.

And clearly, creative director Nicholas Ghesquière has the same mentality that all the shoes in the Louis Vuitton Cruise 2023 show meet these very specific criteria – metallic sneakers, black buckled sneakers with bulbous platforms, sequined boots with a heel thick and sensitive. These women are ready to run away from any otherworldly creature that descends upon them. As each runway look served major #maincharacter energy, I wouldn’t be surprised if DunesThe costume designer picked out some of these looks directly for Zendaya for the recently announced sequel.

The collection was a cinematic interpretation of sun, heat and light, as shimmering metallic fabrics were the shining stars of the range (pun intended). And cinematic was really the only word that came to mind as I watched models walk down the makeshift catwalk of the Salk Institute – a nonprofit organization dedicated to biomedical research and considered one of the architectural wonders of the world – as the San Diego sun set, casting a glow over the already shimmering, suit-like dresses, matching ensembles and sporty separates.

But with light comes darkness. While luxurious tweeds, jacquards and silks shimmered in the last clear hours of the day, the Louis Vuitton Cruise 2023 collection also told the story of a dystopian future, where garments act as armor (a popular theme among designers for Fall 2022) protecting us from the elements, another pandemic or maybe even ourselves. Some references were more obvious, as the intricate drapes evoked images of ancient Roman (or Dunes) medieval warriors and knights modernized with silver chained tops and shiny trousers. Other outfits hinted more at an emotional shield, with oversized hoods and cocoon-like shapes that could be said to connect to the pandemic. And then some just had UFOs as shoulder pads.

And to capture this deep study of dualities, the creative director couldn’t have picked a better location. Ghesquière tells WWD that he chose it because “The Salk Institute has been a place of wonder to me over the years, and the astonishing brutalist architecture of Louis Kahn in this extraordinary setting of the Pacific Ocean and sunset California sunshine provides me with endless inspiration.”

The outer courtyard presented itself as a beautiful community and a melting pot of earth, air and water in the sun. But once the light faded, the concrete jungle and looming buildings had a distinctly dystopian feel, perhaps even a place you might want to run away from. Luckily Louis Vuitton Cruise 2023 has your shoes covered.

Browse the gallery below to see all the looks from the show.

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