Kim Jones’ last show as men’s artistic director for Louis Vuitton was the most anticipated show in January during Paris Men’s Fashion Week.
News of the appointment of Virgil Abloh – founder of the high-end streetwear label Off-White and a long-time creative director of Kanye West’s creative agency, DONDA – as Louis Vuitton new men’s artistic director in March took the industry by surprise.
Trained as architect, not a fashion designer, his new function has been extensively discussed by fashion insiders.
One thing is for sure, his appointment at the helm of Louis Vuitton is a step in the right direction for diversity.
Even if the young generation slightly forget the great work of the British fashion designer of Ghanaian descent, Ozwald Boateng at Givenchy from 2003 to 2007.
Abloh is a self-made man like many millennials and a textbook example of the “slasher” generation. a The master’s degree graduate in architecture from Illinois Institute of Technology is a designer, celebrity DJ, creative director, influencer, university lecturer and a skilful communicator of the digital age.
On Thursday, for his first collection at Louis Vuitton, the streets of Palais Royal were filled with streetwear aficionados.
Abloh chose the exact same location that Jones had used for his last four seasons, in the garden of Palais Royal in Paris.
On the front row sat celebrities such as Kanye West, Kim Kardashian West, Rihanna, artist Takashi Murakami, Kylie Jenner and rappers ASAP Rocky and Travis Scott, who had come to Paris to support Abloh’s debut.
The air was thick with excitement as the show started to the sounds of the experimental Canadian jazz trio BadBadNotGood.
The particularly long runway, featuring the colours of the spectrum, had been inspired by an original idea by the English graphic designer Peter Saville.
Behind the guests sat hundreds of students from various fashion schools.
The show’s eye-catching start featured 17 all-white creations – worn by African-American models – as if to reboot the brand’s menswear designs.
Then, Abloh began to introduce designs with colours, such as camel, green sage, red – then later those featuring tie dyes or floral prints, mixed with fluorescent touches of yellow and orange.
These last prints were taken from the classic 1939 fantasy film, The Wizard of Oz.
The collection featured a mix of tailored garments, such as double-breasted or single jackets, trench coats and streetwear elements including hoodies, army parkas and baggy trousers.
On all the looks, the proportions were quite good, elegant and relaxed – all at the same time.
One of the biggest trainer design collaborations of the past few years featured Abloh’s partnership with Nike.
The Louis Vuitton skate trainers in the show might have taken inspiration from the shape of the Nike Air Pressure, mixed with the colours of the Nike Air Jordan III in black cement, which we think will quickly fly off the shelves as soon as they launch.
Firmly opposed to any utilitarian approach, the Louis Vuitton “Keepall” travel holdalls – featuring a large link chain made of ceramic as a shoulder strap – looked great as a conceptual object.
These bags followed the designer’s earlier travel-bag offerings with a voyeuristic touch – transparent luggage – which he created in collaboration with Rimowa.
As the emotional Abloh took his final bow at the end of the show, he ran to embrace West seated in the front row.
The two long-time friends shared a touching moment and both began to cry as they hugged on the runway.
Abloh had surprisingly walked all the way to the end of the runway to salute his guests.
It is likely that his Louis Vuitton spring/summer collection will continue the magic of his – and Louis Vuitton’s – commercial success.
His debut might not only have been a big test for him, but the start of many new chapters to come.