A parade of off-white – no pun intended – tailored looks, layered and styled with unexpected ease, opened Virgil Abloh’s much-anticipated debut at Louis Vuitton menswear.
Abloh’s inspiration for his first collection as creative director of the storied French house began with the study of a phenomenon known as dispersion, denoting the variety of colors refracted at various angles when white light hits a prism, creating an after-effect similar to a rainbow. If the show’s 15 neutral opening looks represented the presence of white light in the collection, this purist creative doctrine gave way to a multitude of colorful ensembles to follow, rendered in deep eggplant, cherry red and shades of teal, with pops of electric yellow and bright orange threaded throughout in surprising ways.
As the industry’s leader in leather goods, it came as no surprise that accessories were given center stage; styled not as useful ‘add-ons’ but as necessary elements to the completion of each look. Vuitton’s traditional travel bags and everyday trunks were rendered in transparent materials and updated versions of the brand’s classic LV monogram, while colorful linked chains further accessorized each accessory, offering an unwavering sense of ‘newness’ and, above all, ‘coolness’. It was Abloh’s study of hybrid garments, however, in the form of holsters, harnesses and zippered vests, that truly epitomized the juxtapositions felt throughout the collection, those between hard and soft, fashion and utility, luxury and street.
If the first half of the show gave respect to purity and color, the latter portion saw the introduction of further elements of inspiration through uniquely fabricated colorful tie-dye garments and an array of prints, namely those in references to the legendary 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz. Hoodies covered with poppy fields incorporated images of Dorothy, the fantasy film’s main protagonist, while brick-printed trouser’s symbolized the tale’s iconic Yellow Brick Road and the show’s standout knitwear displayed a colorful visual of the film’s four main characters.
Devoid of any formal fashion training, Abloh’s omniscient grasp on the pulse of contemporary culture is the skill the Chicago native has most to thank – along with a slew of successful projects and collaborations – for landing him the job as creative director of Louis Vuitton menswear. Like Dorothy in Oz, Abloh’s “Yellow Brick Road” to Vuitton has placed him in a new, somewhat unknown territory to explore. But if his first collection is any indication, he seems to be acclimating just fine.