Forbes just published this article about Louis Vuitton switching to manufacturing hospital gowns for the major public hospitals in Paris. First off, Bravo LV.
Couple of observations.
This is why design vision matters. They are using AP-HP (France's medical authority) approved fabrics and patterns and yet the garments coming from their atelier are fit for Loretta Swit's Hot Lips, not the drab forgettable items you would expect from a state hospital. By subtly flaring the arms, narrowing the belt, choosing a semi-translucent fabric, etc they have elevated a classic. Kind of their M.O. I guess.
And yet when even LV is stuck within the confines of institutional parameters innovation is squashed. This is the sort of technology they regularly employ on their main line: “A metallic film is first bonded to a tulle base, then laser-cut to the design requested by the studio. The two materials are heated in a press, then the protective plastic film is removed from the metallic sequin to create the sheen effect. This fabric is used as a neo-embroidery.” None of that out-of-the-box thinking is present in these gowns.
I fully acknowledge that some garments should be 90% function and 10% form. These gowns are being made so medical professionals can save lives. It is imperative to have enough of them to meet demand and have them function every time. But if you can put in the same amount of stitches but can elevate the design or incorporate an innovative fabric that makes them better, why not? Beauty reinvigorates the soul and I want to live in a more beautiful world.
This comes back to the main issue I encountered when starting Janesi Comfort; when thinking about patients, everyone designs for the system, even Louis Vuitton. From the outside it makes sense; if the hospital provides them and insurance pays for it companies get the most reach the quickest. You can easily get contracts for half a million units. Those numbers make my accountant's eyes go glassy. But those units must be CHEEP. When Jo was in the hospital I didn't consider her a “unit”, nor did we value “cheep.” By purchasing the best fabric we could find and not skimping on the little design elements that make discretion possible, skin happy and minds at ease we created something that allows people to own a personal part of their situation. To have more agency in the System. This is what I could see Jo searching for that I could not provide. Now you can.
These are being made by Volunteers. LVMH is owned by Bernard Arnault, the third richest man on the planet. They can't afford to pay the people getting them this press?
I need some beautiful dress forms. How sexy are those?
“We are proud to be able to help healthcare professionals at our level and put our know-how at the disposal of the Hôpitaux de Paris to create gowns for medical staff,” Michael Burke, Louis Vuitton Chairman and CEO, has said. “I would like to thank the artisans of our atelier who voluntarily participate in this civic act and who have been bravely applying themselves… to equip healthcare workers in hospitals who are in need of gowns.”