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Louis Vuitton flexes royal muscles in Monaco in 1960s resort show

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MONACO, Monaco - Louis Vuitton flexed its royal muscles on Saturday, decamping from Paris to Monaco for a colorful, '60s-infused "resort" collection that trumpeted the age-old case maker's links with the ruling Grimaldi family.

The occasion was perhaps a welcome focus for Prince Albert.

It's been a tough week after Nicole Kidman's controversial film "Grace of Monaco" premiered at the nearby Cannes Film Festival four days ago. The Olivier Dahan film left the Grimaldi prince angry for what he publicly claimed misrepresented his mother, Grace Kelly, the icy blonde Hitchcock film star-turned-princess.

Stylist Carine Roitfeld and other fashion insiders who had flown in from all corners of the globe, stood as the prince and his stunning wife, Princess Charlene, entered the glass encased show venue in the palace — shadowed by the Alps and overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

Travelling, as some did, nearly 4,000 miles (6,400 kilometres) for a fashion show that lasts a mere 15 minutes — is a decadent luxury afforded by few. But those who did were probably pleased: the new Louis Vuitton designer Nicolas Ghesquiere's second showing for the house was, mostly, a success.

The rare mid-season "resort" shows that are shown by only a handful of the world's fashion power houses — were conceived to target wealthy women who travel on cruise ships in the winter. Here, Ghesquiere celebrated the aquatic in the show decor, with floor paneling that looked like a rocks in water. In the same vein, a barrier reef-type palette infused the collection with bright blues, canary yellows and coral reds alongside colorful watery, marbled patterns in silk skirts.

But the overarching idea was the '60s.

Skirt suits, a retro invention if ever there were one, came in vivid foulard style. But this was overly heavy handed.

Elsewhere, in black and white hoop prints, it worked better: nicely evoking '60s icon Mary Quant. Mini-skirts bounced with and finished at the upper thigh. And one sublime coat dress in pale yellow sported a bias-cut flounce that could have been designed by Courreges (and worn by Twiggy).

But beyond the fashion, Louis Vuitton — the world's most lucrative design house — was also flexing its muscles here in the fiefdom of the Monegasque royalty.

The house noted to guests that it was in 1904 when Louis Vuitton first served Monaco's royal family, creating travel cases in crocodile skin. Ever since, its fame has only grown in making travel cases for the fashion-conscious who grace Monaco. Afterall, it is a place to which ABBA dedicated the song: "Money, Money, Money."

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Thomas Adamson can be followed at http://Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP

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