Lightning, and some fashionable things (images courtesy of Louis Vuitton)
Well, someone had to. For years now I've been wondering when some clever soul or other would uncover the connection between Japanese role-playing video games and fashionable French handbags and accessories. And, finally, Louis Vuitton has done just that.
One of the faces of its "Series 4" advertising campaign is an entirely fictional woman who'll mean nothing to 99 percent of the world's population, an almighty body of human beings that has precisely zero idea what a Final Fantasy is, let alone the events of the 13th installment in Square (Enix)'s long-running game series.
And yet, here we are: Lightning, the dour heroine of 2009's Final Fantasy XIII (pretty good), mostly absent supporting character of that game's 2011 sequel (not entirely bad), and sole protagonist of 2013's XIII trilogy-concluding Lightning Returns (yeah, a bit of a damp squib), is about to be plastered across magazines and dance her way through promotional videos in support of the new range.
While in the West, Lightning's reception amongst the FF community has always been rather cooler than not, in Japan she's an icon in her field. In 2013, gamers in Final Fantasy's home country voted her the best female character of any to have featured in the series. So if Louis Vuitton is looking to shift its goods on the streets of Osaka and Tokyo, their recruitment of Lightning, alongside campaign co-stars Jaden (son of Will) Smith and Korean actress Doona Bae, makes perfect sense.
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What doesn't is this baffling statement from Nicolas Ghesquière, Louis Vuttion's Artistic Director of Women's Collections, which is included in Square Enix's press release on the campaign. If you can untangle what he's trying to say below, please, let us know.
"It's clear that the virtual aesthetic of video games is predominant in this collection. 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. 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. She is also the symbol of new pictorial processes. How can you create an image that goes beyond the classic principles of photography and design? Lightning heralds a new era of expression."
A new era of expression? For Louis Vuitton, maybe, but less so for Final Fantasy, with the next numbered game proper (XV) starring the equally grumpy Noctis Lucius Caelum as its central playable character. A man who, presumably, we can expect to see walking down a virtual catwalk for Chanel sometime in the next five years.