Oscar Niemeyer’s modernist icon, the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum (MAC) in Brazil, recently played host to the Louis Vuitton 2017 Cruise Collection showing. The show coincided with the museum's 20th anniversary, marking its reopening after extensive renovation. The remarkable nature of the building has drawn crowds to the outlying site, across the Guarana Bay from Rio de Janeiro, since its inauguration in 1996. The convergence of the fashion community to the landmark shows its smaller scale Bilbao effect in force.
The building’s form is often described as futuristic and space-like, and perches atop the rocky cliffside allowing full panoramic views of the Guarana Bay. The iconic swirling red-carpeted ramp, which bridges the elevated museum to the paved ground proved the perfect catwalk, coming alive with the rhythmic procession of models. Spectators were arranged in twisting rows, extending the trajectory of the ramp and staying true to Niemeyer’s original design intention, for the building to emerge "from the ground" and "continuously grow and spread."
Louis Vuitton (LV) are no strangers to staging their shows in an architecturally iconic settings; the 2016 collection was shown at another modern icon, John Lautner’s Californian Estate for Bob and Dolores Hope. Nicolas Ghesquière, the Artistic Director of Women’s Collections at LV and orchestrator of both shows explained the selection of Niterói as the continuation of “the architectural journey that is so particular to the Maison Louis Vuitton.” This convergence of architecture and fashion is however, a first for the MAC, which will go on to host four exhibitions supported by Vuitton over the next year, according to a story by The New York Times.
"I so admire the power of Oscar Niemeyer’s conviction. His vision, his radicality, his utopia even," said Nicolas Ghesquière. "Being able to show a fashion collection in such an architecturally powerful space is a sensorial experience. In Rio de Janeiro, what I saw most of all was movement and an explosive energy that lives somewhere between modernism and tropicality. I was fascinated by the constant duality between nature and urbanism and the pictorial explosion it creates."
The Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, also know as the MAC, was designed by the famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and completed in 1996. This iconic saucer-shaped structure, situated on a cliffside above Guanabara bay in the city of Niterói, brilliantly frames the panoramic views of the city of Rio De Janeiro and encapsulates the simple, yet brilliant signature aesthetic of Niemeyer.