Louis Vuitton

“We are the world.” Trust Virgil Abloh to pinpoint an incredibly apt, multi-resonating, globally inclusive title for his debut at Louis Vuitton menswear. The levels of that clever reference—running from Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie’s 1985 charity single in support of Ethiopian famine relief, through the power source of Afro-cultural creativity in music and style, to the activation of the narrative of an international luxury powerhouse brand—were impressive to contemplate, even before the show kicked off. As the sun shone down on the gardens of the Palais Royal, the significance of his central visual metaphor, the rainbow, also sank in. All colors, all nationalities, all identities, and generations welcome here, it said.

Say what you like about Abloh’s qualifications as a fashion designer—he didn’t go to fashion school, he’s accused of appropriating others’ work, all this sort of thing—the overarching role of any leader in office today (fashion, corporate, or political) is to set a tone, personally. In such a divisive, social media–bitchy time, Abloh’s humble-smart, personal-friendly communication skills are of a caliber that can bring people with him. As he faced the biggest test of his credibility today, he deftly set the mood to happiness—that, and a demonstration that, resources unlimited, he can be a bridge between the perceived divide between democratic aspirations and the output at the top of the citadel.

To detail. His starting point, he said in a pre-show interview at LV headquarters, was the idea of white light hitting a prism, and dividing into its component colors. The personal symbolism—his identity as a designer of his own brand, Off-White—was exercised, classily transmuted into the opening look: a tailored suit with a double-breasted blazer and fluid two-pleat trousers. This being an accessory house, all eyes zoomed to bag and shoes: a matte white crocodile tote and trainers. It reassured, and confirmed. The tide is turning toward hip tailoring—there’s been no such thing for way too long. Plus, he’s analyzed the fine art of twisting a classic accessory just enough to make it coolly desirable. In his show notes, he’d noted it as a precise formula, “3%.”

He met the challenge of designing for what is essentially a luxury accessories company by merging bags, wallets, and card holders into hybrid garments—holsters, harnesses, protective zippered vests. Somewhere along the way, these layerings became reminiscent of Helmut Lang’s ’90s canon of design: the casual with the formal, the sense of a calmly empowered gang of friends, a new generation coming into its own.

In 2018, that’s the spirit here. His casting of friends—there were maps, setting out their truly diverse roots in the program notes—celebrated that. In the end, though, the magic of this revolution was nothing confrontational. It even had a romantic, whimsical thread: the rainbow trope leading back to the notion of The Wizard of Oz. There was a print of Dorothy, lying in a bed of roses, beaded embroideries of the friends on the yellow brick road. In this sense, fully felt by Abloh as he came out, overwhelmed, to take his bow, it’s an American dream come true. The last look was a metallic silver poncho with “Follow the Yellow Brick” written on a breast patch. When he posted a picture of that moment on his Instagram, the caption read, “You can do it too.”

[“source=vogue”]