Louis Vuitton Men AW 2019

by Long Nguyen

There is something to say when the staging of a fashion show reflected the mood and the intention of the designer and reflected in the clothes worn by the models.  Set against a backdrop of Avenue B in New York’s Alphabet City circa the mid 80’s. The staging included a barbershop, bodega, townhouses, and graffiti artists Futura, Lewy BTM and Jim Joe art on the walls. A performance by Dev Hynes of Blood Orange sound tracked the show with original music titled “You Know What’s Good.” Virgil Abloh sent out his second collection for Louis Vuitton, centered around the life experience of a boy from Indiana taking place fifty years ago and his transformation into adulthood. The growth was represented through clothes that started as more subdued and grew more extravagant and individualist as the show progressed.  Needless to say, that young boy was Michael Jackson, ‘performer and philanthropist who has served as an icon to Virgil Abloh throughout his childhood and adult life.  The tent built outside in the Tuileries gardens had its flashing headlines ‘Human Nature’ a Jackson hit song from 1985 and the invitation was a pair of white crystal gloves.  

That said, the clothes shown complemented the meticulous details of the set. The show opened with a series of loose fit short jackets over a sleeveless belted double-breasted long jacket with pleated pants and cashmere shirts, creating the guise of dualism – the concept of two items designed independently of one another and intended to be worn together, a garment’s grey that was a shade lighter than the asphalt street the models walked on.  The show progressed into a strong segment of outerwear – giant padded cashmere coats, grey flannel puffer emblazoned with LV logos, leather parkas and paper-thin leather trench. Then towards the more decorated garments like an embroidered top or the monogram coat recalling the emblems of the excess of the “ghetto fabulous” era.  The Jackson military looks were now rendered in a variety of grey and tan cashmere detailed with brass buttosand a sash adorned with puffy small sculptures. There was even a black and white print of the “moon walk” on the jackets and pants as well as a tribute to “We Are the World” with flags decorating bags and backpacks.  

In addition to creating new clothes and products, more importantly, the artistic director is attempting to foster a new language at Vuitton with a small booklet “The vocabulary according to Virgil Abloh.” Starting with 3% as “the exact ratio needed to twist a normative object into something special.” This unspoken suggests learning new meanings of words will transform the brand to speak the same language as the younger generation becoming the new consumer. There is a sense of looking at the recent history of menswear, starting with the suiting, then how to alternate the suiting to fit new generations. With the more recent street wear influence like the Wiz cartoon print sweats and to the more peacock styles this finally moves to the genderless era with finely pleated wrap skirts worn with hooded sweat suit.  But here, this history is viewed through a lens whose optic has been altered by just a slight 3%.  

Photos courtesy of Louis Vuitton