“There are people around this room who look like me; you never saw that before in fashion. The people have changed and so fashion had to.” -Virgil Abloh
Picture this: It’s Thursday, June 21st, 2018, Paris Fashion Week. The hot Parisian sun is shining over the Jardin du Palais-Royal for Louis Vuitton’s Spring/Summer 2019 Collection. The runway is set. The seats are filled. The front row, including the likes of Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, A$AP Rocky, among others, is watching. Virgil Abloh is the man of the hour.
The only other times I can recall counting down the LITERAL seconds to a fashion show was Kanye West’s debut with Adidas (Yeezy) and Rihanna’s debut with Puma (Fenty x Puma). I had been anticipating this show since March, when Louis Vuitton appointed Virgil as the Artistic Director of menswear. It’s not totally crazy to give power to “celebrity,” but it is crazy to accuse my generation of stripping away legitimacy and integrity from the traditions and heritage of fashion. Here’s my opinion: it’s 2018. I can only speak from my point of view, a nobody (my mom would disagree), who supports a creative who designs from an “I am everyone” perspective. That is Virgil to an overpriced (for extra emphasis) tee!
Let’s talk about the collection, shall we? This collection told a story; of colour, of elegance, of poise, of history, of charm, of craftsmanship, of detail and of revolution. What is Louis Vuitton without any of these? Here’s the fun part. Virgil told this story in such a way that not only represented what the fashion house stands for, but with his delicate touch and finesse. This narrative has become one of my favourites for so many reasons. Stated by GQ, “he’s the first black person to lead Louis Vuitton’s menswear division, and he doesn’t have much formal fashion training, and he hasn’t been in the industry that long, and he’s caught flack for iterative designs, but he knows that the odd path he took to his current position means that he has broadened the possibilities for those who will come after him.”
This wasn’t your ordinary Louis Vuitton collection. This wasn’t just any inaugural debut. Politics aren’t my forte, nor are they something I like to discuss often, but this was a shift in power; a statement that quite frankly, no one could have executed better. GQ notes, “the clothes themselves were an elevated version of his Off-White work. He’s made no secret that his work there was an audition for a role at a major house, and now he’s at one, with the artisans to match.”
Yes, this was a fashion show to some, but to others, it meant so much more. It was a metaphor for freedom. As I watched Virgil embrace Kanye at the end of the show, my emotions were set on fire. I thought about how difficult it must have been for them to get where they are in the fashion industry. For years, I’ve watched them redefine the meaning of the words “art,” “design” and “creativity” only to get the door closed before them. Now look at them.
To view more looks from the Louis Vuitton Spring 2019 Menswear Paris Collection, Vogue’s got you covered!
What were some of your favourite looks from the collection? Let us know in the comments!
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Sources: vogue.com, hypebeast.com, GQ.com
Photos courtesy of vogue.com, nytimes.com