Mention Virgil Abloh’s name and almost instantly, streetwear comes to mind. Whether it’s his own disruptive young clothing brand or innumerable sold out collaborations, the 38-year-old, selfmade fashion savant has pioneered a new form of dressing, one that’s cool, relaxed, and “derivative.”
This signature style of his has made Abloh the zeitgeist of the modern fashion generation. His bankable, sought-after designs paved the way for his groundbreaking appointment as men’s Artistic Director for Louis Vuitton.
Virgil Abloh is LVMH’s first African-American creative head without formal fashion training. With a global platform to direct the future of menswear, the impact of his career ascension is limitless. It signaled a new era not just for the 164-year-old luxury brand, but the industry as a whole.
DA MAN’s own Paul Dela Merced was invited to the presentation of Abloh’s debut collection last December in Tokyo, Japan. We had a closer look at the brilliance of his designs originally presented at Palais-Royale Gardens during Paris Fashion Week last year. Three words encapsulate Virgil Abloh’s spring/summer 2019 collection:
The collection was unlike anything Louis Vuitton has ever done before. Gone are the days of formal suits; the future of menswear is all about streetwear and self-expression. Abloh’s designs are so experimental and divisive they shook the fashion world. He released leather bibs, hybrid vests, neon harnesses, tie-dye and reimagined iconic Louis Vuitton bags and accessories at the show. It was apparent that the 38-year-old fashion designer is redefining menswear luxury codes while swinging the french global fashion powerhouse into the future.
What made the collection extra special was the inclusion of real people in the show. Abloh sent models and friends from various ethnicities and cultural backgrounds down the 200-metre-long runway. The information pack given at the show contained Abloh’s A to Z dictionary along with a world map dotted with the birthplaces of the models and their parents. According to Abloh’s instagram post, it is “a global view on diversity linked to the travel dna of the brand”. This is definitely a historic move for a heritage brand like Louis Vuitton.
Every color imaginable was utilized at the show. From off-white to holographic, it was a polychromatic visual feast.
Say what you want about Abloh’s fashion technicalities, or lack thereof, but it’s undeniable that his ingenuity in turning something so mundane into an art form piques one’s interest—and converts to sales.
Abloh’s rainbow collection for LV also utilized ceramics, metals and plastics, a move that’s unheard of in the world of luxury fashion. I have to admit I was unconvinced at the Paris show, but the media presentation in Tokyo was an eye-opener, quite literally, as intricate details and the designer’s personal stories and inspiration were revealed before my very eyes. The luxe craftsmanship Louis Vuitton is known for is still very much embedded in Virgil’s futuristic designs. His designs imbue attitude and personality. The devil is in the details.
The prismatic, Wizard of Oz-inspired runway added a 360-degree experience to the show. The “gradient painting” runway, as the designer puts it, is a symbol of dreams: That somewhere over the rainbow, a dream like that of Dorothy’s or Virgil’s are bound to come true.
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