Men's PFW: Louis Vuitton

Off-White is a Milan-based fashion house that finds the perfect synthesis between streetwear and high end fashion.  Virgil Abloh, who recently replaced Kim Jones as Louis Vuitton’s first black men’s artistic director, is the founder and original designer of the Off-White brand; producing high end streetwear since 2013, including sold out collaborations with brands such as Jimmy Choo, Nike, Sunglass Hut, and Moncler.

A six month internship with Fendi alongside Grammy award winning artist and fashion designer, Kanye West, began the journey of the Chicago-bred, Ghanaian designer.  In 2006, Virgil Abloh and Kanye West performed the basic duties of a typical intern (fetching coffee, faxing, photocopying, etc,.) under the leadership of Fendi’s CEO at the time, Michael Burke; who would advance to present day CEO of Louis Vuitton.  Although it’s hard to imagine a personality like Kanye West running errands during a full work day for just $500 a month,  Burke welcomed West’s and Abloh’s creative energy and described their energy as “disruptive in the best way.” Abloh secured the essentials he needed to later start his clothing brand, and continued to cultivate his twelve year relationship with Kanye West who made Abloh his personal “creative collaborator.”  Abloh’s inflection point began in 2011 after he completed his work with Kanye West on the Watch the Throne album. He purchased a collection of dead stock flannel Ralph Lauren rugby button up shirts, and printed the number 23 (reference to Michael Jordan) on the back which he resold for roughly $500 under Off-White teaser name, Pyrex.  Although this practice was unethical, it provided the foundation for the Off-White brand that launched in 2013.  Abloh presented a full summer/ spring collection that included military jackets, hoodies, tracksuits, denim outfits, shorts, shoes, book bags, and duffle bags with a myriad of color ways and the brand name as the rear header.

Abloh has continued to season his brand each year by fusing together the formality of high end fashion with the raw edge of hip hop culture.  In doing so he created sophisticated streetwear and used his clothing to present his long-cultivated idea of fashion to the world.  

In an interview with Dazed magazine, Abloh stated, “Off-White is two things.  It’s the consumer product, but then it’s also a theory, it’s a modern proposition.  The obligation isn’t to buy Off-White, it’s to just look at it.  It’s just to be conscious of the concept.  That’s what I’m doing, making a concept around streetwear, which feels very modern to me. And my goal is for people to absorb the fashion show images or understand the layers of the fashion show that I’m putting together.”  Abloh prefers that consumers buy into the concept of brand rather than just buying the brand itself because it’s trending worldwide.  

His vision proved to be well-founded and well-accepted judging from his ascension to menswear artistic director for the billion-dollar luxury brand, Louis Vuitton.  June 21st, 2018 marked the commencement of Abloh fashion narrative for Louis Vuitton’s 2019 summer/ spring line.  With the most highly anticipated show entitled “We are the World,” models of different status, race, color, nationalities, and ages were granted the opportunity to be apart of this historic moment.  The show took place at the Jardin du Palais Royal in Paris, France on a 200 meter dispersive prism runway which separated into spectral rainbow colored components; used to highlight the composition of the clothing versus the runway.  Being that Louis Vuitton is primarily an accessory brand, Abloh approached the challenge of designing classic accessories by exercising his creative control to foster a fashion twist on each garment.  Duffle bags ranged in material from iridescent clear rubber to suede while holsters and harnesses were stapled with either chain or leather linked straps connected to signature Louis Vuitton holders varying in size and shape.

Moreover, the last ten looks of the summer/ spring collection paid homage to the upcoming 80th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz.  A floral embroidered jacket and floral printed blazer included designs of the main protagonist, Dorothy lying asleep in the floral (poppy print) pattern.  Also, apart of the last looks were two sweaters consisting of the central four characters’ silhouette stitched against the infamous yellow brick road.  The final look of the show was modeled by rapper, Playboi Carti who wore a metallic silver poncho with the words, “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” stitched on the right breast patch.

Kid Cudi led the lineup of celebrities that strutted down the 2019 Louis Vuitton runway along with with ASAP Nast, Octavian, Blondey McCoy, Steve Lacy, Theophilus London, Lucien Clarke, and Lucien Smith.    

Virgil Abloh physically and emotionally embraced the audience as he walked out to close the show.  His final words regarding his first Louis Vuitton show can be seen under his Instagram profile @virgilabloh, with a posted picture of him exiting the runway with the focal comment, “you can do it too….”