A model walking the runway during the Louis Vuitton Resort 2018 show in Kyoto, Japan - May 14, 2017

Travel has always been at the heart of Louis Vuitton. The label first became renowned in the 1850s for its innovative trunks and luggage featuring the now legendary LV monogram. So it’s only appropriate that the brand goes all out each spring for its Resort shows.

Resort 2018 is the third in what Nicolas Ghesquière has called a trilogy. It started with Resort 2016 at the Bob and Dolores Hope estate in Palm Springs and continued onward to Rio de Janeiro for Resort 2017 at the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum. This time the setting was Miho Museum, an hour east of Kyoto,  Japan. Like its two preceding locations, this setting was equal parts futuristic and exotic. Far from being overshadowed by their backdrop, the clothes were equally astonishing.

Ghesquière’s love affair with Japan goes back to his real breakthrough onto the style scene, designing for Balenciaga’s Asian market before becoming the fashion house’s creative director. At 25, he rescued the label from its floundering period after the death of founder Cristóbal Balenciaga. From the beginning, Ghesquière was noticed for his use of contrast, pairing the tight with the voluminous, the billowing with the sharp cut. He took that fascination with him when he moved in 2013 to Louis Vuitton, and it was by no means absent from Resort 2018.

Gold and silver splashed airy dresses inspired by the costumes of Japan’s traditional Noh theater and enlivened with a palette of Kurosawa’s colors. These fluid pieces came into opposition with more combative elements such as stiff leather befitting a shogun warrior. Cowboy boots added some Western flair along with new-age spats sliced by transparent panels. The label’s iconic brown bags of course joined the lineup of chic accents.

Cat eye makeup and dramatic Kabuki style eyebrows were just one striking tip of the hat to Japanese fashion designer Kansai Yamamoto, who collaborated with Ghesquière on the collection and joined celebs like Michelle Williams and Jennifer Connelly in the front row. If the slashes of cheekbone-defining color also remind you a bit of David Bowie, you’re not imagining things. Yamamoto is best known in the West for designing the legendary musician’s costumes during his Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane periods.

More Japan-centric flourishes came in the form of samurai tailoring, wrapped obi waistlines, and prints evoking ancient engravings. Throughout, there was a push and pull between stiff and soft, discreet and alluring. Square hems alternated with handkerchief hems, and more than one ensemble was meant explicitly for the world traveller.

For example, the oversized pinstripe dress shirt topped by leopard print-trimmed coat was clearly intended by Ghesquière to be bound for the mountains surrounding Kyoto. It’s easy to predict which of these ensembles Michelle Williams will take to the red carpet. The more interesting question is, where would you like to take your favorite piece — whether to Kyoto or Rio or somewhere in between? — jas