Final Fantasy XIII’s pink-haired leading lady Lightning makes her haute couture modeling debut in Louis Vuitton’s “Series 4” advertising campaign for the Spring-Summer 2016 collection. Lauded game director and character designer Tetsuya Nomura and the Visual Works team at Square Enix collaborated to bring the Louis Vuitton-produced promo to life.
Beginning in January 2016, Lightning can be seen modeling the Louis Vuitton “Series 4” collection in promotional videos and magazine advertisements. Final Fantasy XIII’s iconic heroine is already prominently displayed on LV’s social media pages, including Twitter and YouTube.
In an exclusive, but (delightfully) faux interview with the Telegraph, Lightning officially tells all about her Louis Vuitton modeling experience and shares what fashion means to her.
“Fashion isn’t something you’re taught or given, it comes from your own taste and your own choices. It displays the essence of who you are to the people around you… LV is a new adventure―a new fantasy―that I will enjoy from the bottom of my heart.”
— Final Fantasy (@FinalFantasy) January 12, 2016
Lightning is certainly no stranger to fashion, given that the primary battle mechanic of the third and final game of the XIII series, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, involved unlocking and upgrading her fashionable, yet functional, wardrobe.
Fans in the U.K. may also remember Lightning wearing Prada for a feature in the biannual men’s fashion magazine Arena Homme+ with fellow Final Fantasy XIII-2 cast members Sazh, Snow and Noel. The gang, including Lightning, wore silk shirts and suits from Prada’s 2012 Spring-Summer Men’s collection. Although Lightning did appear in the magazine, WSJ reported the fashion house wasn’t all that involved in the process, as it was the magazine that chose to feature the Final Fantasy characters in Prada for their 12-page spread.
Louis Vuitton arguably marks Lightning’s true modeling debut, as the fashion house “fully produced” the entire affair, according to Nomura (via press release). He makes it clear that Square Enix’s Visual Works team was responsible for putting the pieces together, but LV sought out the character.
“…it is a great honor that the character herself received an offer from a world famous brand. As a result of this collaboration, this has infused new breath into the character, Lightning.”
— Louis Vuitton (@LouisVuitton) January 6, 2016
Why has Louis Vuitton chosen Lightning, specifically? Although the branding experts may have liked the fact they both share first names that start with an “L,” there’s more to it than that. The narrative of the “Series 4” ad campaign explores the role of a heroine. Lightning extends the idea of what a heroine is, and can be, into the digital space, a place perhaps seemingly more “real” in the modern era if only for the increasing amount of time people choose to spend immersed therein.
The official Louis Vuitton blog, LV Now, describes Lightning’s virtual significance.
“It is logical that the Maison Louis Vuitton would explore the infinite possibilities of the virtual world and ask this fantasy character to interpret the essence of a heroine… The Maison has always pushed the boundaries of reality and dreams. Real, virtual, incarnate, metaphorical: Lightning is the fruit of Square Enix studios’ imagination, and she raises the question of immanence―that which takes place solely in the mind―in tomorrow’s world.”
Nicolas Ghesquière, Louis Vuitton’s Artistic Director of Women’s Collections, expands on this notion in his press statement.
“If we push the reflection about heroines, or what might constitute the nature of a woman whose actions can be so courageous that she becomes superior and iconic, it becomes obvious that a virtual entity integrates with the founding principles of the Maison.”
In this sense, Ghesquière calls Lightning “the symbol of new pictorial processes,” ringing in “a new era of expression.”
“Lightning is the perfect avatar for a global, heroic woman and for a world where social networks and communications are now seamlessly woven into our life.”
The Louis Vuitton 2016 Spring-Summer line has gone geek chic, and as Ghesquière notes, “the virtual aesthetic of video games is predominant in this collection.” And, the collection unabatedly shows off its inspiration. Take a look at the Net Printed Overdyed Silk Crepe Jumpsuit above. With its geometric print in red on white, the jumpsuit seems like it could have been plucked from a closet in the Mirror’s Edge universe. The red fingerless gloves, or “Straps,” effortlessly evoke Faith’s sleek, futuristic style. The edgy black eye makeup worn by several LV models in the 2016 Spring-Summer fashion show is quite reminiscent of Faith’s signature look, too.
— Mirror's Edge (@mirrorsedge) October 19, 2015
Several pieces in the ensembles modeled by Lightning look like something straight out of a Final Fantasy game, as well. The Printed Lambskin Jacket paired with the Washed Coton Bubble Skirt would easily work as an alternative uniform for Akeademeia’s Class Zero in Final Fantasy Type-0 HD. It’s easy to imagine Tifa Lockheart swapping out her Advent Children combat boots for the “Samourai” Platform Sandal. Plus, even though the Gel Overdyed Silk Crepe shorts and Go-14 PP Malletage Hologram LV bag may be a tad too colorful for Paine, that Studded Linen Blouse really isn’t too different from the crop top she rocked in Final Fantasy X-2.
Couldn’t you just see Kingdom Hearts’ Kairi in the perfectly bubble gum pink LV Bicolore Calfskin Jacket below and those Sora-esque embroidered shorts accented with a hanging belt?
Monica Kim of Vogue reports the inspiration for the collection borrows a bit more from Japanese pop culture by taking a few creative notes from anime and manga. Model Fernanda Ly opened Louis Vuitton’s Spring-Summer 2016 fashion show sporting the same outfit Lightning wears in the video promo. Kim’s commentary of the show splendidly describes muses beyond video games that may have also inspired the collection.
“Just look at the silver Sailor Moon tiara grazing Ly’s brow. Why, yes, it seems to say—new Louis Vuitton does give you magical girl powers (at least, we’d like to think so). Or see Harleth Kuusik stomping powerfully down the catwalk in Major Motoko Kusanagi’s Ghost in the Shell visor and boyish shag, eternally cool.”
In addition to pointing out Sailor Moon and GitS, Kim also notes a possible Evangelion inspiration and touches on a “Silk Reactor Printed” piece in blue and grey hues that could be inspired by Cortana as she appeared in Halo 4.
“The militaristic style of Kuusik’s red leather coatdress, too, recalls the skintight plugsuit worn by Neon Genesis Evangelion‘s mecha pilots, while the sleek lines of Maartje Verhoef’s galactic-print flight suit have us thinking that, if dressed in Vuitton, life post-apocalypse might not be so bad.”
Louis Vuitton doesn’t hide the anime inspiration, either. Items from the collection are aptly named, including the “Manga” and “Cosplay” footwear pieces. Styles include sling back low boots, ankle boots, and more. There’s even a Manga Flat Richelieu.
As the fashion industry imitates video game art, and vice-versa, Lightning x Louis Vuitton may be a match made in haute couture heaven.
[Image via Square Enix/Louis Vuitton Malletier]