Louis Vuitton attracts celebs, but the over $100 million venue is the real star

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PARIS — Louis Vuitton's show caused traffic chaos early Wednesday with a sea of photographers clambering to get the must-have shot of attendees Jennifer Connelly, Selena Gomez, Sofia Coppola and Michelle Williams.

Top fashion editors, meanwhile, sprinted in eagerly for a glimpse of the latest installment in the new chapter for the house following Marc Jacob's departure last year.

It was Nicolas Ghesquiere's second ready-to-wear collection — for next spring-summer, a young-looking ode to the 60s.

The sparkling celebrities and clothes were, however, victim to the biggest fashion upstaging of the season.

The culprit: one a gargantuan prima donna that outdazzled and will outlive them all — the brand-new Louis Vuitton Foundation art museum and cultural center.

Glistening in the morning sun in west Paris — with billowing glass casing and white concrete panels — the near-12,000 square meter building designed by Frank Gehry had guests stopping in their tracks, mouths open.

"It's incredible, it really is," said one guest, Long Nguyen, who stopped to take a photo.

At a cost of well over 100 million euros ($126 million) the edifice, which has been compared to an iceberg or giant sailboat, took over a decade to make. It will have 11 gallery spaces of different sizes and opens officially at the end of October.

The man behind it is billionaire Bernard Arnault, head of the world's biggest luxury group and Louis Vuitton parent company, LVMH.

Arnault, France's richest man, commissioned it to house his vast contemporary art collection. The building, decorated with "L's" and "V's," has been branded a tycoon's "vanity project" by the media.

Regardless, it's one of the most exciting, avant-garde Parisian architectural projects in years.

The clothes inside went the other way — they were retro.

The collection opened with great classic 60s white lace, high neck mini dresses — with a sporty feel — and looks that had black ribbons round the neck.

The Swing Sixties-musing continued elsewhere in some nice velvet looks and a pair of enviable russet cropped pants.

There was also a nod to this on-trend Balkan, ethnic look in zigzag detailing, Grecian embroidery and thick lacing down the torso — that has been on high rotation this season. Those were the hits.

The misses included several looks with sometimes-clashing colors and textures — such as a garish, shiny eel skin minidress in thick orange and black stripes.

Overall, it was a diverse collection and couldn't easily be pinned down. But it's apparent that Ghesquiere's vibe is much younger and much more "fun" than that of Jacobs.

The question is: will this please Vuitton's older (and more monied) clientele?


Thomas Adamson can be followed at http://Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP

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