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To think of a luxury French fashion house is to conjure fantasies of nimble-fingered seamstresses stitching impossibly delicate textiles and fine leathers in quiet, forbidden ateliers.
But high fashion's reliance on the handmade has been, if you ask Louis Vuitton
artistic director Nicolas Ghesquiere, somewhat overstated.
"Fashion is a wonderful industry because fashion is scared of nothing," Ghesquiere says. "Fashion was always very supportive of the craft, and at the same time fashion has never refused innovation, never refused to go further, to look for a new way to do it, and technology is a part of it."
This willingness to embrace the new is something that has defined Ghesquiere's career. And since taking the helm at Louis Vuitton in 2013 (following a 15-year tenure at Balenciaga), he's aspired to compliment the house's storied history and time-honored techniques with technological advancements, whether its by using lasers to cut the perfect silhouette or channeling digital heroines
in his designs.
"I am introducing the innovation into the patrimony," he says.
Taylor Swift wears Louis Vuitton at the 2016 Met Gala. Credit: Mike Coppola/Getty Images North America/Getty Images for People.com
When it comes to the man versus machine debate, Ghesquiere's less interested in choosing an overall winner than figuring out which is better suited to a specific task.
Certain feats of embroidery, for instance, could only be achieved by hand, but 3D printing prototypes for a shoe buckle is far more efficient than its manual alternative.
"The work of the designer today is also to display those techniques of fabrication to decide which way you should go and what you should mix to create a beautiful dress," he says.
Watch the video above to find out why Nicolas Ghesquiere learned to stop worrying and love the machine.