Kanye West, Michelle Williams Head to Palm Springs for Louis Vuitton's Cruise Show

Michelle Williams - H 2015
Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

Michelle Williams - H 2015

The French luxury brand descended on the desert, filling 800 hotel rooms with international guests who attended the show at the famed Bob Hope estate.

Why are Parisian designers and luxury brands suddenly taking their cruise collections all over the world (Chanel to Seoul, South Korea, Dior to Pierre Cardin's home in the south of France) instead of showing in their native cities? Cruise has become an important fourth season for collections, but the season, originally meant for wealthy ladies traveling to warmer climates, is now more of a pre-spring collection, and it certainly gives stylists an extra season to dress clothes-hungry celebs for tons of appearances.

Louis Vuitton chose Palm Springs as the destination to show its cruise 2016 line (apparently importing enough guests to fill approximately 800 hotel rooms in the desert town) due to designer Nicolas Ghesquiere’s passion for architecture. And what better place to bring international journalists than a place with sun, mountains, valleys, desert flowers as well as soft tones of pink, green and pale blue sky. Those from cities gray with clouds and rain couldn't help but revel in the bright scenery — and the weather.

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On Wednesday afternoon, 500 guests descended on the John Lautner-designed Bob Hope estate, which is now for sale for $25 million (in case you’re interested), as Hope was apparently the richest star of his time, wisely investing in a ton of SoCal real estate. Its spaceship-like exterior featured models in kabuki style makeup (done by none other than the legendary Pat McGrath) miming on the second-floor balcony as guests sipped LVMH Ruinart champagne on the lawn.

LV Crew, from left: Miranda Kerr, Alicia Vikander, Michelle Williams, Nicolas Ghesquiere, Nathalie Emmanuel, Britt Robertson and Adele Exarchopoulos

The runway was in the open-air, expansive backyard, with the mountains, valleys and the 6 o’clock sun as a picturesque backdrop. The front row, built of Plexiglass and plywood crates and stools, snaked around and around. Ensconced were celebrities including Kanye West (that ubiquitous lover of French fashion, minus the Met Ball’s near-naked Kim), Catherine Deneuve, Marisa Tomei, Selena Gomez, LV’s new face Alicia Vikander, Michelle Williams, Grimes, Miranda Kerr, Britt Robertson and Charlotte Gainsbourg (plus many Chinese actresses, including Zhang Ziyi) as well as L.A. fashionistas and socialites like Jacqui Getty, Lisa Eisner, Jennifer Smith Hale, Liane Weintraub, Rosetta Getty and Cameron Silver.

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Also in attendance were Hollywood power stylists like Petra Flannery, Elizabeth Stewart (in Alexander McQueen), Karla Welch (in Rodarte), Ryan Hastings, Maryam Malakpour and George Kotsiopoulos. And there were plenty of out-of-town journalists, including Suzy Menkes and WWD’s Bridget Foley — plus a gaggle of L.A. fashion editors and writers. The eclectic crowd was clad either in LV (from minis with boots to Palm Springs-style long kaftans) or a multitude of styles of perennial fashion-black. Almost every well-dressed guest carried an LV evening bag spanning every season you could think of — making the people watching almost as interesting as what was to come on the runway.

When the show started (to the sound of distant gongs), it became clear why Ghesquiere chose the Bob Hope estate (which he apparently saw 15 years ago and which never left his mind) as the backdrop for his collection. Like Palm Springs itself, the cruise collection is an amalgam of desert chic and prairie flow. In contrast to his past love of tough, rocker-chic leather, most of Ghesquiere's looks were long and flowing. There were pale maxi-skirts matched with leather jackets as well as blouses (and a number of jumpsuits) with open backs that were wrapped with leather strips resembling western belts with studs. Some of the long looks showed a crack of waist in the front as well.

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There were long, printed high-necked prairie/Victorian dresses (last season they were called “fairy tale”) — but the highlight had to be the full-length leather gowns (or dresses, whatever you want to call them) that came out at the end, some with studded cap sleeves, in colors from burgundy to bottle green. They’re ever-so-slightly punk, but still luxurious, beautifully crafted and fitted. Perhaps Petra Flannery will snag one for Emma Stone’s debut at Cannes? Or Vikander will debut them in the ad campaign? No doubt, leather gowns will be a trend for fall 2015. An actress hoping to wear one to the Emmys is probably out of luck, however, as patience will not be a virtue as far as these dresses are concerned. And how long they'll be at retail takes no guesswork — in other words, preorder as soon as you can.

As if this "spectac" — as they call them in Paris — wasn’t enough, LV hosted the entire audience for an al fresco dinner at garden tables on the grounds of the Gene Autry estate behind the Parker Palm Springs, followed by a giant funhouse of an afterparty on the massive manicured grounds, complete with bumper cars, frenetic dancing, pinball and a mini crane machine filled with all varieties of luxury LV wallets for guests to try and snag (though many failed). The last attendees toddled out at 2 a.m. For all the major fashion events in SoCal of late (Burberry's L.A. show and Victoria Beckham's intimate dinner) it will be hard for anyone to top LV’s act — the funhouse alone took a week to construct.