What Will Mr Virgil Abloh Bring To Louis Vuitton?
Mr Virgil Abloh in New York, 8 September 2017. Photograph by Mr Hagop Kalaidjian/BFA/REX/Shutterstock
Further to last week’s news that Mr Kim Jones would be departing Louis Vuitton as artistic director of menswear after a starry seven-year tenure, it was announced this morning that he will be replaced at the French luxury house by the Off-White designer Mr Virgil Abloh. Shake-ups are nothing new in the fashion business, but there are a few reasons we’re particularly excited about Mr Abloh’s appointment. He is the first designer of colour to head up the major fashion house, and alongside fashion designers like Balenciaga’s Mr Demna Gvasalia and Gucci’s Mr Alessandro Michele, Mr Abloh is part of a new-wave cohort of creatives who are redefining luxury fashion. On top of that, Mr Abloh also has a close relationship with Mr Kanye West – the two interned together at Fendi in 2009 before launching their own respective brands, and Mr West brought Mr Abloh on to be art director for his and Jay-Z’s album Watch The Throne.
Managing to capture the zeitgeist in an age marked by the freneticism and fickleness of social media, Mr Abloh’s brand Off-White has made waves in the fashion industry since its inception in 2013, garnering a cult following for its cerebral streetwear. With that in mind, we’ve made some predictions about what we might expect from Mr Abloh now he’s in Louis Vuitton’s driving seat.
Off-White AW18. Photograph by IMAXTREE
In his most recent Off-White collection, aptly-titled “Business Casual”, Mr Abloh toed the party line of mixing streetwear with suiting, and showed tailored, pinstriped jackets and trousers in baggy, Dickies-style cuts. The relaxed silhouette that Mr Abloh favours in his designs works to elevate his streetwear into something more refined, but stops the suiting from verging into anything that borders on old-fashioned or stuffy. This could work particularly well at Louis Vuitton, which has avoided suiting in its ready-to-wear lately – could Mr Abloh-esque tailoring be the look of 2019?
Off-White SS18. Photograph by IMAXTREE
If there is one thing that has thrust Mr Virgil Abloh into the collective fashion consciousness, it’s the hypebeast-worthy accessories he’s created. From his multiple collaborations with Nike on sneakers that are often listed on eBay for upwards of £1,000 to the industrial-themed belts and camera bags, Mr Abloh has a knack for this stuff. And considering Louis Vuitton famously collaborated with Supreme last year in an unexpected cross-over that shot hyped-up streetwear to the top of the fashion industry, we assume Mr Abloh’s talent for creating buzz around his designs will set him in very good stead indeed when it comes to creating must-have pieces for the storied Parisian house.
Off-White AW16. Photograph by firstVIEW.com
Louis Vuitton, perhaps more so than any other luxury fashion label, is characterised mostly by its imminently-recognisable monogram print. With that in mind, we’re rather excited to see what Mr Abloh will do with it. Prints on Off-White items include everything from esoteric wordplay on T-shirts to a Hawaiian floral-print silk shirt and camo sweatpants, and his AW16 Menswear show incorporated arresting racing checks in various shades. If there’s one takeaway from that, it’s that Mr Abloh doesn’t play it safe with his prints. Or, really, with anything else. Which is exactly what makes his appointment at Louis Vuitton so gripping.