If the Louis Vuitton 2016 cruise collection had a retro-futuristic feel to it, the after-party that followed Wednesday night had a distinctly old-school feel to it -- as in high school.
As the sun started to set over the Coachella Valley, guests were ferried from the Bob and Dolores Hope estate to the Parker Palm Springs, where dinner and drinks were served amid the hotel’s rabbit warren of lush gardens. One got the impression that every last bit of flora and fauna -- from bees and hummingbirds to swaying palm trees and bougainvillea bushes -- had been pressed into service on behalf of the French fashion house.
Dinner and dessert were served buffet-style from a handful of stations, the highlight of which -- most notably with the clutch of models that had walked in the runway show -- turned out to be a make-your-own s’mores offering complete with long wooden sticks and a roaring fire pit. Watching flaming globs of marshmallows being snarfed down by impossibly tall teens like something out of a campfire story could easily have qualified as the high point -- if the night had ended there. But it was only just beginning.
Around 9 p.m., guests were ushered to the back of the Parker property, where a grassy area had been transformed into an outdoor carnival complete with video games, bumper cars (including a pair emblazoned with Vuitton’s LV monogram for commemorative photo-op purposes), a dance floor and one of those classic claw games stocked with the luxury label’s leather wallets, pouches and accessories as prizes.
All the high school archetypes were in the house too. There was Kanye West (the bad boy) semi-brooding in a Hundreds hoodie at the edge of the dance floor (seemingly nonplussed by the whole affair, West didn’t even look up from his conversation when the DJ started blaring one of his songs and the crowd on the dance floor roared its appreciation). Michelle Williams (the glamorous girl next door) chatted amicably with a handful of friends over sweet potato fries. Marisa Tomei (the high school sweetheart) hit the dance floor wearing a polka dot jumpsuit and a beatific smile. Then there were style maven and jewelry designer Lisa Eisner and Commune Design principal Roman Alonso (the cool couple), she in a spangly dress and gilded sunglasses and he in a white suit. They worked all the angles, first to ride the bumper cars before enthusiastically taking to the dance floor.
The BMOC (Big Man on Campus), of course, was Louis Vuitton’s jean jacket-clad artistic director Nicolas Ghesquière, and for most of the after-party, he held court in the center of it all -- with bumper cars bumping and bouncing on one side, video games blinking and burbling on the other -- as he greeted well-wishers and celebrity friends.
As we wandered out of the festively lighted arcade, we couldn’t help but think of the evening -- with its cadre of famous folks, endlessly flowing Champagne, bumper crop of mini burgers and video games that never needed quarters -- as some kind of cosmic throwback.
If Ghesquière’s 2016 cruise collection for the label gave us a glimmer of retro-future glamour, the after-party was a vision of the past perfected.