For Nicolas Ghesquière, the future has always been now. Last week, he transported the fashion world to San Diego where he brought his forward-looking vision to life through Louis Vuitton Cruise 2023. And that present future as he sees it is one that needs fighting for.

Backed by the setting sun along La Jolla shore, 56 models walked the brutalist construction of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, clad in Grecian goddess-like drapery and metallic textures that literally called to mind protective armor. Ghesquière resurfaced his life-long obsession with science fiction, this time combining it with nods to sports and retro styles reminiscent of the ‘80s, looking all the way to a new millennium set in his own dystopic version of Dune.

We unpack the best bits and pieces of the collection below, from the most standout looks to a new collaboration, and a noteworthy update on a signature sneaker.

Dune: Part II Came Early

Ghesquière’s messaging of the future through LV Cruise 2023 started with his stage for it. The Salk Institute is home to scientific research in cancer, neuroscience, immunology, and climate change, and makes for a meaningful location to showcase his impending apocalypse. The collection starts with intricately embroidered regal gowns, and goes through varying classes of the LV warrior clan before ending with the most heroic of soldiers, ready to be dispatched into space for battle.

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Louis Vuitton / Giovanni Gianonni
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Louis Vuitton / Giovanni Gianonni
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Louis Vuitton / Giovanni Gianonni

Among the models were actual Olympians—real-life warriors—Eileen Gu and Dalilah Muhammad, and toxic shock syndrome survivor Lauren Wasser. Protected by LV's durable constructions, they stormed triumphantly across the barren, concrete expanse, in tune with the beat of the pulsating music. At least in Louis Vuitton’s universe, our role as humans seems to be to survive and overcome this planet’s harsh conditions, and then fight to protect whatever is left of it.

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Louis Vuitton / Giovanni Gianonni
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Louis Vuitton / Giovanni Gianonni
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Louis Vuitton

Everything As Armor

The warrior theme continues throughout the styling, finishing details, and accessories. Substantially layered tweed and jacquard, sequins shaped like scales of exotic skin (The Rainbow Fish, anyone?), and Transformers colors abound. Wrist guards and shoulder pads are reinforced with metal and leather, and even the shoes and bags are plated with metal. Padded and perforated details inspired by motor sports claim functionality, and draped fabrics encourage movement. Even the series of long dresses that opened the show are worn with sneakers.

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Louis Vuitton / Giovanni Gianonni
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Louis Vuitton / Giovanni Gianonni
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Louis Vuitton / Giovanni Gianonni

Ghesquière’s selection of metallics are intentionally meant to reflect and change with sunlight. Silver and gold-covered denim pants are stitched with embroidery that oxidizes and changes color with time, furthering his play on nature and mission to be one with it.

One of the most standout pieces of the show were the series of bolero jackets with glittery streamers in the same metallic theme that altogether resembled alien UFOs already midflight. Ghesquière confirmed that his intention was to make them look like “kite-like wings.”

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Louis Vuitton / Giovanni Gianonni
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Louis Vuitton / Giovanni Gianonni
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Louis Vuitton / Giovanni Gianonni

A Retro-Super-Future

Draped linen and tweed are appropriately accompanied by harem pants reminiscent of the '80s and '90s, their retro-ness intensified by a bright primary color palette. Low-rise denim in iridescent gold and silver hark back to Y2K style, more proof that for Ghesquière, it’s not necessarily about being modern. His LV-enabled spacetime continuum encompasses all eras, mixed together to create his own, new retro-futuristic aesthetic.

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Louis Vuitton
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Louis Vuitton
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Louis Vuitton

Yayoi Kusama's Return

With Cruise 2023, Louis Vuitton teases the revival of its long-standing relationship with Yayoi Kusama. Marking the 10th anniversary of their last partnership, the new collaboration sees Kusama’s colorful dots painted on monogram leather bags, and interpreted as bulbous metal studs scattered throughout new silhouettes. The full collaboration will release this January.

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Louis Vuitton
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Louis Vuitton
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Louis Vuitton

The Archlight 2.0

Following up on the popular Louis Vuitton Archlight sneaker is the Archlight 2.0, amplified with new metallic colorways and chunky velcro straps. The same Archlight sole is also hybridized with Chelsea and combat boots, so heavyweight that they could be weaponized on their own.

The show came to a close with the speakers blasting Sparks' 1974 song, "Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth." The models walked toward the sun as if going on a space mission, promising something we don't yet know. But what we do know is that whatever the mission, Ghesquière's battle will surely end in victory.

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