Alicia Vikander on ‘Irma Vep,’ Louis Vuitton and Staying Sane

·4 min read

Alicia Vikander hit the red carpet Sunday evening for the premiere of her upcoming series “Irma Vep” in a custom Louis Vuitton copper column dress, readied as if going into an extremely stylish battle.

“I feel like I have my armor on, a very beautiful Cannes version. I’m excited to see the light hit it when we are on the red carpet,” Vikander told WWD as she dressed in the Louis Vuitton suite minutes ahead of the premiere.

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The gown blended two looks from last week’s cruise show in San Diego with warrior cues in copper beading. Created with Nicolas Ghesquière, the pair started on the look as soon as the festival lineup was revealed in mid-April. It took two weeks and over a thousand hours to construct the sculptural gown.

Vikander, who has been an ambassador for Vuitton since 2015, said she has developed not just a creative clothing partnership with Ghesquière but also a friendship.

“The incredible thing is he has such an eye to make beautiful creations and gowns, but he also sees me as a person wearing it. It’s incredible when I get the sketches, it’s defined that he knows me and I can see that,” she said. “The thing with Nicolas is that his own style is very much looking back and honoring classic fashions or styles, honoring those materials and craftsmanship and bringing it out and mixing it up to become something almost ahead of its time,” the actress added.

When she started on the “Irma Vep” project with director Olivier Assayas, she saw some synergy and brought the two together.

“The most exciting thing was that both Olivier and Nicolas, I had separately heard them talking about each other and say that they are fans of one another, so it was one of those things that I was so happy to make sure they met and made that connection,” she said. The result was Ghesquière designing all of the costumes for Vikander’s character in the series.

The series is a remake of Assayas’ own 1996 film “Irma Vep,” which itself is a remake of the 1915 soap opera “Les Vampires” from Louis Feuillade. The new series plays with those contradictions in time as well as toys with the idea of being a movie within a movie, confusing what is real and what is part of the plot.

For “Vep,” Ghesquière pays homage to the original but added subtle touches to make it feel entirely of today. “He used the silks that were in the original catsuit and added velvet, so he kind of did what I think he does best — honoring the classic with a very classic silhouette, but then added heels that were in steel for something very modern,” Vikander said.

The series shot in Paris for five months, giving her time to get to know the very chaotic city and nurture deeper friendships with Assayas and Ghesquière. “I have never had that long there and it’s another feeling completely when you get to actually stay there and can actually start hanging out with your friends on a weekly, regular basis,” she said. “I became a local.”

While her and husband Michael Fassbender have a house in the French countryside, their home base is Lisbon, a more laid-back city that offers her a good balance, she said. “I’ve become more and more — I never thought I would say this, if you would have met me 10 years ago I would have been like there’s no way I’m living in New York, London or any big city. And four years ago, we moved to Lisbon. Because our work tends to take us to big cities and quite buzzing places, so when I’m actually not working — which isn’t that much — it’s kind of nice to just be someplace quiet.”

And work she does. She’s in the midst of filming “Firebrand,” about King Henry VIII and the doomed Queen Catherine Parr, in rural England. Vikander made it to Cannes in time for the Vuitton dinner Friday night and stayed through Sunday’s premiere, but would be on a flight back to the Derbyshire countryside within hours. Next up will be the second installment of the Tomb Raider franchise.

There’s a line in “Irma Vep” where her character says, ‘I’m young, I’m a movie star, what matters is staying sane.” So what does the actress do to stay sane between all the jet setting around?

“I like work to be quite intense on set and when the shooting is done for the day I go home and have dinner and take a bath. With work, I love to go and experience it and do it fully, and then I go home and shut off, read a book, and cook some food,” she said, admitting it’s difficult to find time to dig into books for pleasure, which she loves.

However, she’s not scrolling through Instagram, TikTok or other social media distractions. “I don’t have social media. I’ve never had it. You asked what keeps me sane, and that’s definitely part of it.”

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