10/08/2019

Virgil Ablou’s Louis Vuitton 2020 Spring Collection

When Virgil created this collection he had growth in his mind above all and his authenticity to bring luxury into an everyday streetwear. Its been a year since he’s been at Louis Vuitton and he thinks it’s time to slow down and allow ourselves to appreciate the beauty of familiar things, to check in with a restorative childlike pleasure in the world. Which we could not agree more. 

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His collection of easy shapes, wide fluid pants, pastels, flowers, and couture techniques passing by felt freeing from the usual way of luxury houses way. He expressed that being in a busy world sometime we should just take a deep breathe and enjoy life through being the little boy you were growing and to some that translated rebellion 

He’d sent a Louis Vuitton do-it-yourself kite-making kit to everyone in advance—his invitation to grown men to remember the fun of boyhood.

It seems inconceivable that anyone as pressured as Abloh could have the time to pause and gather his thoughts, beyond getting the next thing done. He’s coming off an intense few weeks, even for him, opening his retrospective exhibition at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, showing Off-White men’s yesterday, and now his third Vuitton collection today. But he says he’d planned out his Vuitton direction of travel well in advance. “I decided I’m not shifting gears every season—I saw that as a potential trap before I started. I stand for diversity and the idea that luxury can be something wider in this era. So I’m going to continue down that line, and continue this feeling of the whole freedom of being a child, still learning. I’m changing my pace drastically.”

Program notes pointed out that he’d chosen the idea of wild flowers—never segregated in nature—as a metaphor for diversity. He’d brought in a florist to decorate a jute harness and the inner brims of straw hats with fresh flowers. It didn’t read as a naive, bucolic narrative so much as one of this season’s connection points between popular handmade craft and the work of the skilled people who work at luxury goods houses. “There is an atelier here with 24 sewers, and that’s what makes it different,” Abloh observed. You sensed his relish in cultivating super-sophisticated effects, like flower embroideries climbing up tulle coats, and a couple of immensely luxe iterations of hoodies, made from minutely pleated chiffon. “I’m learning, and taking much more of a couture approach.”

Abloh is the fulcrum point of these changing times in fashion, creating common ground between the aesthetics of the cultures of streetwear and the exclusive domain of luxury. But we also need to add in his knowledge of the contemporary art world.

Another level of consciousness here was his sub-referencing of the work of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who wrapped the Pont Neuf in 1975—the bridge that connects Louis Vuitton’s headquarters with the Place Dauphine location on the other side of the river. That’s how the ties and tabs and bunchy shapes, released into pleated effects, came into his mind, he said.

That aspect of Abloh’s mission is all of a piece with what his exhibition in Chicago is achieving—the breaking down of class 

barriers to education. “What’s great about it is that there’s a hundred kids an hour going in and poring over the work. I don’t have to pitch it to anyone,” he reflected. “I rebranded the institution. On the front, it says City Hall…my effective change is that proclaiming museums as City Hall, [I’m saying] go there and study artists! By me rebranding an institution with vocab, it’s pointing people in the right direction.” 

Same with Louis Vuitton, really. There’s joy, curiosity, and positivity in what he’s bringing to this brand. As he draws a new generation to line up at the doors, his example is seeding much more than the desire to buy.

Photo: Filippo Fior / Gorunway.com
Photo: Filippo Fior / Gorunway.com
Photo: Filippo Fior / Gorunway.com
Photo: Filippo Fior / Gorunway.com

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