Louis Vuitton A/W 2019 Paris Fashion Week Men’s
Mood board: A single white glove, studded with crystal. The invitation to Virgil Abloh’s second Louis Vuitton show seemed to say it all. Yet, despite the staff at the door all wearing sweatshirts printed with the iconic eye graphic from Michael Jackson’s 1991 Dangerous album cover, references to the star were surprisingly restrained. In his comprehensive notes for the show, Abloh presented a rousing piece about a boy born into segregated 1950s America – that boy went on to become the global superstar revered, celebrated and loved all over the world. Jackson’s penchant for military-style jackets influenced the cut of outerwear. Some casual shirts and trousers in cotton gabardine were covered in original prints featuring characters — including Jackson’s Scarecrow — from the 1978 film The Wiz. His toe-stand dance move was airbrushed onto a tee.
Scene setting: A New York street with its rows of shops, graffitied walls, wind tunnels of swirling rubbish and discarded furniture became the backdrop to the A/W 2019 collection. On each of the seats lay Vuitton-ed replicas of the scraps found languishing on New York pavements – a till receipt, a blue plastic bag, a rusty door sign. A rough piece of cardboard. A pizza takeaway flyer. Each became an immediate collectable item; a souvenir of a new dawn at the luxury house. The staging brought to mind the John Landis video to Thriller, in which Jackson and his girlfriend are infamously attacked by zombies while returning home from the cinema. Here the models walked down the fake street, sauntering to the beat of the music, their steps illuminating the sidewalk in a nod to Billie Jean. The make-shift concrete steps in front of closed shops became seats for the VIP guests – they faced the rest of the attendees for the whole show and became part of the spectacle. Artists Jim Joe, Lewy BTM and Futura scrawled live onto the walls during the show. The soundtrack was composed by Devonte Hynes with MC Mikee Freedom on vocals and Jason Arce on saxophone and flute. As the show reached its finale, Hynes sat at the discarded piano in the middle of the set and played the whole thing out.
Best in show: The show’s staging with its glitzy Broadway styling and palpable narrative suited the pomp and generous proportions of the clothes. The opening look – a grey double tailored coat in canvas worn with wide trousers with split fold at the front – proposed a new, fuller silhouette for suiting. A second double-tailored jacket saw a bomber back grown onto a traditional blazer; there was a sense of swaddling and layering. Monogram quilted puffers in cashmere flannel or lambskin will be a hit amongst the glitterati. Pleated skirts were worn over trousers. World flags making up the different nationalities of the people in Abloh’s studio were patched into shirts and bags. We Are the World, indeed. §