Virgil Abloh’s rainbow of inspiration for Louis Vuitton

Virgil Abloh’s rainbow of inspiration for Louis Vuitton

Highlights from the first Louis Vuitton Men’s Spring-Summer 2019 Fashion Show by Virgil Abloh. The show was held at the Palais-Royal Gardens during Paris Fashion Week.

Virgil Abloh brings a rainbow of inspiration and inclusivity to his first Men’s collection for Louis Vuitton.

Within the gardens of the Domaine du Palais Royal, a gradient rainbow runway signalled the new vision of Virgil Abloh. Uniting the Maison’s tradition of travel and luxury with a global message of positivity, Louis Vuitton’s Men’s Ready-to-Wear Artistic Director proposed a collection complete with reimagined contemporary silhouettes, leather goods and accessories. Beginning with the opening looks in layers of white, the line-up continued as a representation of light refracted through a prism – a spectrum not just of colour but also design possibilities.

Relaxed tailoring maintained a strong presence as the constant between comfortable day looks and formal attire. Harnesses and vests featuring an archive pocket design embodied Abloh’s idea of “accessomorphosis” whereby an accessory becomes a garment, thus evolving its function. Streetwear silhouettes took on elevated new forms through an exact twist of three-percent from their original shape. The iconic Keepall became dynamically revisited in transparent and iridescent monogram surfaces, or else in all-over white, ruby red and emerald leathers – each bag boasting an enlarged chain strap.

As models from around the world walked the runway in LV Skate trainer boots, formal derbies studded with LV hardware, and vintage LV Runner trainers, they evoked Abloh’s ideal of the Yellow Brick Road, Dorothy’s path of discovery and otherworldly escape. Scenes from the film appear integrated into embroidered knitwear and printed outwear, in addition to the final silver leather poncho with commemorative Louis Vuitton and Wizard of Oz beaded patches. This was Abloh’s story of a dream made real, and the future is bright.

Backstage at Louis Vuitton Men’s Spring 2019

[As Reported by WWD / Images from Louis Vuitton]

Talk about a watershed moment. As Virgil Abloh took his bow after his debut men’s wear show for Louis Vuitton, he embraced his mentor, Kanye West, and the two men openly wept tears of joy. They’d made it, at last. The designer from Rockford, Ill., who four years ago launched his streetwear label Off-White with the aim of revolutionizing high fashion, had a theory about what it meant for him to reach the top rungs of the industry.

In an alphabetical guide handed out to guests, he gave this definition of luxury: “A label determined by values, codes and qualities, its use and definition were the privilege of few until a new generation conquered its dominion and shifted the paradigm for good.”

But as he remarked a few days before the show, there’s a difference between knowing and feeling. His display last Thursday — held under a sun so searing that iPhones flashed temperature warnings — was one of those events destined to make the industry annals.

The celebrities! (Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Naomi Campbell, A$AP Rocky, Travis Scott, Kylie Jenner and Bella Hadid, to name just a few.) The setting! (A 650-foot-long rainbow catwalk in the Palais-Royal Garden.) The models! (Friends including Playboi Carti, Kid Cudi, Dev Hynes and Theophilus London walked in the show.)

Virgil Abloh and Rihanna

Backstage at Louis Vuitton Men’s Spring 2019

The clothes themselves signaled the dawning of a new era. Neither pure streetwear, nor straightforward luxury, they sat somewhere in between, with all the trial and error that comes with mapping new territory.

In a preview at the Louis Vuitton studio, Abloh said he wanted to start with a blank slate. His colour scheme was based on white light hitting a prism and separating into a spectrum of hues, with shades ranging from off-white (naturellement) to the multicolored palette of “The Wizard of Oz.”

Flanking the runway were 700 design school students, dressed in T-shirts colour coordinated with the gradient runway, reflecting Abloh’s commitment to opening luxury to a new generation. Printed on the front were the words “Not Home,” a nod to Dorothy’s classic line: “’Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Abloh likened himself to the character played by Judy Garland, the “farm girl from the Midwest transported to Oz, a fairy-tale land where she experiences things beyond the reach of her imagination.” Along his yellow brick road, he found transfigured basics: a jacket made of white mink; a camel double-faced cashmere hoodie, and a tie-dye T-shirt in white leather.

Also: elevated takes on the screen-printed motifs that have powered his streetwear business, such as a letterman jacket hand-embroidered with an image of Dorothy dreaming in a field of poppies.

In their pristine whiteness, the opening looks made a powerful statement. The mohair suit, crocodile leather trenchcoat and monogram-embossed leather vest were the sartorial equivalents of box-fresh sneakers.

Some of his other experiments — namely neon-colored vests with bulging pockets that he described as a bridge between accessories and fashion — clearly needed refining. Instead, the key takeaway of the show was a casual silhouette that, while not new to men’s wear at large, felt fresh for both Abloh and Vuitton.

“It’s not oversize. There’s volume in the pant, it’s very relaxed, very casual, very chic. Those are the things that I believe in. That’s my personal aesthetic. This is me having a conversation with luxury,” explained Abloh, who personally favours an adolescent’s uniform of T-shirt and jeans.

“Luxury is something that’s coveted. It’s not necessarily something that’s expensive, so I’m employing the perfect vintage T-shirt that you find in Melrose in L.A. — that’s equally as important as a cashmere sweater in brushed mohair,” he posited. As are the accessories.

From the new LV Skate sneakers to Timberland-inspired LV Creeper ankle boots, the covetable options on display suggested Vuitton could soon become a major mover on the footwear front. The bags, which power the business, were less convincing. Adding plastic chains to crocodile leather styles was probably a misfire.

Abloh seemed eager to address any detractors.

“I don’t call myself a designer, nor do I call myself an image-maker. I don’t reject the label of either. I am not trying to put myself on a pedestal, nor am I trying to be more, now. I would like to define the title of artistic director for a new and different era,” he said in his show notes.


Backstage at Louis Vuitton Men’s Spring 2019

Backstage at Louis Vuitton Men’s Spring 2019

Backstage at Louis Vuitton Men’s Spring 2019

Backstage at Louis Vuitton Men’s Spring 2019

Backstage at Louis Vuitton Men’s Spring 2019

Backstage at Louis Vuitton Men’s Spring 2019


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