I’m not exactly sure what a “pre-fall” menswear collection is all about. But Louis Vuitton recently honored the late and great fashion designer Virgil Abloh by photographing one of them in and around Le Corbusier’s Firminy-Vert complex about an hour outside of Lyon, France.
Abloh was apparently a huge fan of the work of architect Le Corbusier. And he tried to apply the same kind of utilitarian approach to fashion as Le Corbusier had done to cities, buildings, and housing.
The Firminy-Vert complex is a series of buildings, one of which is the last of his “Housing Unit” designs (1965). Le Corbusier designed and built a number of these, with the most well known one being in the south of France in Marseille (1952).
They were a utopian model for high-density housing, with “streets” instead of corridors and with schools and other social functions being housed high up and inside the building. They were intended to act as a kind of vertical city.
To the untrained eye, they might resemble the kind of public housing that today goes unloved in many cities throughout the world. But for whatever reason, these particular renditions have largely stood the test of time.
Maybe it’s because of their importance to the development of modernist architecture, or maybe it’s because most of them (if not all of them) are now UNESCO World Heritages sites.
My take is that it shows you that architecture and built form alone can’t solve every problem. The same building in different places and different contexts, can and will perform very differently. In this particular case, in Firminy-Vert, the complex seems to be doing rather well. The perfect backdrop for a luxury pre-fall fashion collection.
The Marseille one has been well-loved by locals and especially residents if not from the beginning, certainly for decades and its units don’t spend a lot of time on the market. While non-residents call it “la maison du fada” (the nutcase’s house) those who live in it have only great things to say about it. While it has lost of lot of its amenities over the years (school, etc), it still functions well enough at the unit level to not lose any appeal. The doubly-exposed units while small and narrow by today’s standards are apparently very pleasant to live in.