After his successful debut collection for Louis Vuitton last season, Virgil Abloh presented an impressive fall/winter collection proving that he has found firm footing at the French fashion house. Peter Zewet reports from the press presentation in Tokyo, Japan.
For fall/winter 2019, artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s men’s wear collection, Virgil Abloh, took inspiration from the iconic figure of Michael Jackson. Taking aside his controversial private life, the late Michael Jackson provided a wealth of creative ideas through his music and fashion styles. A powerful advocate for inclusivity, Jackson was never bound to a particular notion of race, gender or sexuality. On a more practical note, Jackson’s iconic fashion styles highlighted his love for royal military garments, wide-brim fedoras, sleek loafers and loads of sparkle, while his personality that reflected a Peter Pan naiveté, added another layer of sartorial stimulus.
As inspiration for the collection, this Jackson leitmotif could have resulted in costume-y looks or a parodic homage to the King of Pop. But under Abloh’s deft hands, it was a theatrical template within which he worked wonders. Adopting the right elements, Abloh presented a cohesive collection that showcased his ability to mix high-fashion aesthetic with an elevated streetwear sensibility that he is famous for.
In tune with the fall/winter season, outer wear and suits dominate the collection, with a play of layering and loose, baggy silhouettes. Showcasing relaxed tailoring, the suits, reminiscent of the zoot suits, refreshes early-eighties references.
The color palette, presented in monochromatic ensembles, featured various shades of grays, browns, blacks and whites—all punctuated with bold purples and reds which are colors most associated with Jackson. The motifs and prints in the collection are exceptional such as the cartoonish illustrations that were seen on pajamas and the houndstooth motif that, on closer inspection, is made up of miniature maps of Africa. Another standout print is the multi-national flags print inspired by “We Are The World.” Marking the nationalities of the models and people in his studio team (from Great Britain to Ghana; Scotland to South Korea), the patchworked flag motifs appeared on the ready-to-wear and accessories “with the intention of communicating origin and unification.” This flag motif also perfectly expressed the maison’s DNA in the art of travel.
As expected from Louis Vuitton, luxurious fabrications and techniques were apparent in the collection. Leather cuffs embossed to form baroque reliefs, semi-sheer rococo prints on shirts, as well as the aforementioned houndstooth chequered from tiny Africas, highlighted the maison’s savoir-faire.
The leather goods and accessories of the collection, like in seasons past, are incredibly covetable. The maison’s favorite men’s bags, such as the Keepall bag, Steamer bag and Christopher backpack, were presented in various sizes and new looks in tune with the season’s inspiration. While the Louis Vuitton monogram are present, new hues like fuchsia, neon yellow and red, were incorporated for the bags. The luggage pieces became the star of the show, featuring Abloh’s trademark chains of last season alongside the introduction of rainbow and flag motifs that also appeared on the different bags in the collection. As for footwear, Abloh brought his classic streetwear touch by debuting new sneaker silhouettes, taking on a retro-futuristic aesthetic that merged Vuitton’s luxury background with Abloh’s streetwear roots.
Any successful businessman knows that when it comes to business, the best source of feedback—and some would say the only feedback that one can trust—is sales. From the remarkable figures of his debut collection for Louis Vuitton, and the exciting new collection that is sure to continue his successful tenure for the French fashion giant, it is now safe to say that Abloh’s success as the creative driving force behind Louis Vuitton wasn’t simply down to excellent luck and powerful branding, but come from his ability to create something that is much desired by the market today.
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