Welcome to The Director’s Cut, an interactive column featuring fashion, beauty and career advice from RGNN Director and Founder, @isabelevabohrer.
Louis Vuitton. Christian Dior. Gucci. Christian Lacroix. Alexander McQueen. Jacquemus. At first glance, it might be hard to determine what these fashion brands have in common. Let me tell you: Arles.
Arles? Yes, the Provençal town where Vincent Van Gogh created some of his most famous paintings (and cut off part of his left ear…). What used to be a bohemian getaway, -Pablo Picasso, Henry James, Ernest Hemingway and Paul Klee all used to hang out at the Place du Forum,- has now become a mecca for cosmopolites, art and fashion lovers included.
Gucci airlifted 400 guests to Arles for its Resort Collection in 2019. “Wow,” wrote Vogue and it really was a spectacle to say the least. The Luma, a former SNCF warehouse turned artistic center with a glittering Frank Gehry tower, inaugurated in 2021, has since placed Arles on the global art circuit for good. Jacquemus came to attest to it, choosing a salt mine 40 kilometers from Arles as its 2022 runway location. The brand’s summer poetry, “Les Vacances à Arles,” sent out as a newsletter in 2023, can still be viewed on the Jacquemus website today.
Keep reading if you, too, are longing to plan your own artsy (and fashionable) visit to this picturesque town.
Plan your trip to coincide with Rencontres d’Arles
Every summer since 1970, Arles is home to one of the most important photography festivals worldwide: Rencontres d’Arles. Plan your trip to coincide with it, you won’t regret it. That said, book your hotel (and any restaurants if you are a foodie) in advance, because it can get quite busy.
The exhibitions, as with every photography festival, will vary from year to year. Fashion brands continue to flock to the festival. In 2018, Alexander McQueen made a previously unseen appearance in French photographer Ann Ray’s exhibition, “The Unfinished Lee McQueen.” Ray met McQueen back in 1996 at Givenchy in Paris, and that was the start of an intimate relationship. She recalls, “Lee had no money, so the deal was settled in a very simple way: ‘I love your photos. Give me photos, and I will give you clothes.’”
Pick up a copy of Louis Vuitton’s “City Guide: Arles”
McQueen is not the only one who has been spotted at Rencontres Arles; this year, the festival was sponsored by Kering, the conglomerate home to so many other fashion brands, including Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta and Balenciaga, amongst others. The even bigger conglomerate, Bernard Arnault’s LVMH, too, came along with Louis Vuitton and Dior.
Louis Vuitton has been publishing the LV City Guides, indispensable companions for the discerning traveler, for over 20 years. This year, Louis Vuitton revealed a new edition of its “City Guide: Arles” at the festival. It was a multi-sensory experience, the Librairie Ephémère Louis Vuitton, a pop-up bookstore including wine tastings, book signings, meetings with photographers and more. In fact, so many luxury companies are installing pop-ups to bring customers closer to the brand; just take the Prada pop-up and hot pink Jimmy Choo Café at Harrods in London, for example.
You can also pick up a copy of the LV City Guide: Arles on louisvuitton.com.
Celebrate the next generation of photographers with Dior
Dior came along to Arles this summer, too. Specifically, Christian Dior Parfums awarded its 2023 Dior Photography and Visual Arts Award for Young Talents, in collaboration with Luma Arles and ENSP Arles. A special thank you to one of this year’s finalists, Inés Tanoira, for sharing her photos with ROOSTERGNN.
Book your Luma tickets online in advance, entrance is free. Chances are Dior will be holding its photography show again there next year, so check the exhibitions calendar in advance.
Stop by the Christian Lacroix store
Christian Lacroix store in Arles and the cuff selection | Photo credits: RGNN.org
Did you know that Christian Lacroix is from Arles? Stop by his hometown store on Rue de la République. You’ll find embellished blazers alongside statement costume jewelry – I am usually not much of a cuff girl, but Lacroix’s selection will catch anyone’s eye.
Keep tracing the footsteps of Van Gogh
A visit to Arles would not be complete without rendering homage to Van Gogh. You can follow his footsteps, here’s just a few ideas:
- The Rhône river where he painted “Starry Night”
- The Café La Nuit (see photo above), where he painted the “Café Terrace at Night”
- The Roman Amphitheater where he painted “The Arena at Arles.” In fact, there is so much Roman history in Arles (I could write a whole article on that, but the focus here is on fashion, so the Gucci runway show with Roman history will do for now)
- The Fondation Vincent Van Gogh, which chronicles not only Van Gogh’s stay in Arles, but also invites contemporary artists to reflect on their relationship with the artist
- You can even visit the hospital where he was taken after his “ear incident,” now the Espace Van Gogh.
Take photos, and more photos
Van Gogh said it and it’s still true today. Arles is all about the light. There’s so many great photo opportunities, including:
- The streets of Arles for that ultimate Provençal vibe. See the Van Gogh bullet points above to snap shots of all the artsy spots.
- Luma Arles; the inside is reminiscent of the Guggenheim in New York and you can go up the Frank Gehry tower for a complete view of the city.
- Something I’ve left on my bucket list for next time: a trip to see flamingos and pink salt lakes in Camargue, just outside Arles (and where the Jacquemus runway show was held).
- Cobblestones. Enough said. Wear sneakers or flats to walk around. (Although I did go for a Louboutin So Kate on our date night at the hotel…)
- The summer months are hot. A small crossbody bag or wallet on chain will do, especially if you want to enter the museums.
- If you’re arriving by car, keep in mind that the historic center of Arles is hard, if not impossible, to manoeuvre. Your best bet is to park in one of the public car parks, the most central one being Parking du Centre. Some hotels may have a shuttle to get to and from the car park, which brings me to my last point…
Where to stay
Details (and shoes 😍) at L’Arlatan Hotel, Arles | Photo credits: RGNN.org
L’Arlatan Hotel. “The place to be à Arles,” says the IG slogan. Designed by Cuban artist Jorge Pardo, it’s the most colorful hotel in town. My favorite – the spectacular staircase, curved on one side and straight on the other, adorned with flamboyant lamps in the middle. À bientôt!
Questions or comments? Follow me on IG @isabelevabohrer and say hi! See you soon!