Yesterday the world of fashion experienced a historic moment at Virgil Abloh’s artistic directorial debut for Louis Vuitton that took place at the gardens of Palais Royal in Paris. As the first person of colour to hold a leadership position for this luxury label, Virgil made sure that every single detail of this show counts and has an impact that will transcend the realm of fashion.
His menswear Spring/Summer 2018 collection has introduced streetwear and diversity to a historically staunch European fashion house that is characterised by elitism and limited access. Given that the designer is American with a Ghanaian heritage, and the creator of high-end streetwear label Off-White (a name intended to reject binaries), his Louis Vuitton debut is worth its weight in gold. It shows that people of colour are no longer merely serving those sitting at the table; they now have a seat at said table and are making a valuable contribution to the conversation.
Virgil is most aware of this honour bestowed upon him. This is evident in both the emotion he displayed yesterday, as well as his comment to the media, ‘I’m here; I want to show that I’m just a figure with many more behind him. I’ve cracked open the door. I want to show it’s open, to meet people halfway.’
Because auspicious occasions call for auspicious moments within them, the 37-year old multi-skilled fashion practitioner invited 3 000 design school students to his show. The gesture reiterates his sentiments of wanting to ‘lay a foundation, that’s what this season’s about. I want to speak to the generation presiding. But I also want a young generation to come in and know, hey, there’s someone here who’s listening, and speaking back to them.’
The second memorable moment that took place at Palais Royal on Thursday afternoon was marked by the men walking the runway for Abloh’s first LV show. Musicians Kid Cudi, Playboi Carti, Steve Lacy of The Internet, A$AP Nast, and Dev Hynes exhibited an array of silver, (off)white, and mint green ensembles from the collection. Perhaps he was paying homage to his background in music, and the burgeoning relationship between music and fashion in the millennial creative space.
And lastly, the inimitable Mr Abloh was supported by the most relevant and influential celebrities of the decade. Rihanna (dressed in Louis Vuitton), A$AP Rocky, Naomi Campbell, long-time friend and muse Bella Hadid, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Chadwick Boseman, Miguel, and Virgil’s mom, were all there to back him. Compared to other star-studded post-event pictures, which often look PR-orchestrated, there was something inherently sincere and endearing about the way the man of the moment posed with/embraced fellow industry friends and supporters.
Perhaps the most emotional moment of all was when Virgil ran up to tightly embrace Kanye West – whom he has worked with closely for years – and the two gentlemen shed a tear. Kanye’s recent controversial rants aside, I think we can all agree that we haven’t seen the music star this content and emotional in a while, witnessing his colleague and friend’s success.
Virgil runs into Ye’s arms at the close of his 1st show for #LouisVuitton
— Shelby Ivey Christie (@bronze_bombSHEL) June 21, 2018
And for the rest of us, Virgil Abloh is that green light at the end of the dock that has us optimistic about the trajectory fashion and creative industries are taking towards inclusivity and innovation.
(Woah, why am I crying in the club right now?)