While the spring-summer 2023 collection signed by the men’s ready-to-wear studio Louis Vuitton paraded on the catwalks of Paris Fashion Week on June 23, the fashion world is still wondering who will succeed Virgil Abloh. Waiting for the answer, the spirit of african american designeragain, hovered over this collection.
It was necessary to have the Cour Carrée du Louvre in Paris to host the Louis Vuitton show-performance. The crowd gathered at the entrance stampeded with impatience under a bright sun but could not imagine the spectacle that awaited them. As soon as you cross the porch, it is the decor that surprises: a gigantic yellow playground, resembling a car circuit, transports us into a childish world. The fashion show invitation – designed as a tribute to the show sets created by Virgil Abloh during his eight seasons as artistic director from 2018 to 2022 – in the form of a board game to be assembled, already set the tone.
A hasenlarged playground to evoke those toys that are given to children and which are tools for the imagination, basic elements for their dreams and aspirations. These symbols of childhood punctuate the collection. We find the iconography of the playground on clothing and accessories: origami paper airplanes, building blocks, beads, textures and tones of modeling clay, cartoon prints, sandbox tools…
The show, which opens with a cinematic prelude by African-American artist, filmmaker, DJ and radio host Ephraim Asili, is followed by a double performance: a fanfare of Florida, The Marching 100, and a dance intense and joyful punctuated by flag bearers. So much so that the soundtrack of the parade will merge with the clothes: two models “SpeakerMan” integrate, for example, wireless speakers in their backpacks. The show will be punctuated by texts from rapper Kenrick lamar.
Romanticism pervades the collection with fields of flowers depicted on garments through impressionist paintings, transformed into tapestries and prints, while representations of thistles appear in several weaves, prints and embroideries. VShe floral motifs are nods to the decor of Louis Vuitton’s ancestral houses (in Asnières) where thistles often appear in bouquets.
The idea of turning imagination into creation is found in these toys. Building blocks and plasticine elements adorn clothing and accessories, while toolbox components – scissors, tweezers and pliers – embellish them like these three-dimensional embroidered pendants. The luxury house demonstrates its know-how with its fabrics with embroidery, beading and crochet made in the hand. Note that many looks from the collection are recycled.
The finale ends with a touch of emotion when the models return carrying a large veil in their hands, which is reminiscent of the runway (note: carpet/podium) of the gardens of the Palais Royal for Virgil Abloh’s first show.
Louis Vuitton had paid tribute in January 2022 to Virgil Abloh by presenting, in Paris, her eighth and final collection, that of fall-winter 2022-23.
In addition to this parade, other tribute events have been organized since. The luxury brand has teamed up with Sotheby’s for a charity sneaker auction. More than 100,000 dollars per pair on average, up to more than 350,000 for the most expensive : the sale of 200 Vuitton-Nike lots designed by Virgil Abloh had totaled 25 million dollars.
Another event was held in April: the exhibition coming of age was presented to the Louis Vuitton Foundation. In 2019, Virgil Abloh organized an exhibition in Los Angeles as part of a creative partnership with the art gallery Little Big Man Gallery. During its stages in Paris, Beijing, Milan, New York, Munich, Tokyo and Seoul, coming of age gave students, artists and communities access to a Do It Yourself workshop so that they could create their own fanzine based on the works from the exhibition that they liked the most. coming of age brought together the works of the original exhibition and its narrative to reinvent and develop them.
Six months after the disappearance of Virgil Abloh – who denounced racism and had campaigned for an inclusive society from his first parade We are the World for the spring-summer 2019 – as the spring-summer 2023 men’s collection parades on Paris Fashion Week catwalksthe brand has still not announced the name of its successor.
“We need someone of his caliber”, said the CEO of Louis Vuitton, Michael Burke, in Le Figaro the January 21, 2022. “We will not try to replicate Virgil (…) We need someone of his caliber, but also of Louis Vuitton’s caliber, walking from the Jura to Paris. Someone who is not necessarily of fashion, who would be fascinated by this world and would like to conquer it”, he said then. It would take a personality that nurtures “a sensitivity towards ready-to-wear, which is very important in our business. A designer who feels the times, who understands the zeitgeist (note: spirit of the times) and knows how to synthesize everything that happens at a given time by telling great stories”added the CEO of Louis Vuitton.
In January 2022, specialists claimed “that there is no urgency”. “It’s a choice that will require boldness just as Virgil’s choice was bold”had analyzed Serge Carreira, lecturer at Sciences Po, interviewed by AFP. “He embodied a new way of understanding fashion that also includes culture, society, major movements and mixes everything” like a DJ, Serge Carreira had again underlined.
Among the potential black candidates were cited his former collaborators Samuel Ross and Heron Preston, the artistic director of Reebok, Kerby Jean-Raymond, the British stylist Grace Wales Bonner and even the rapper and designer Kanye West, friend of Abloh. Names of unemployed creators Kris van Assche, Daniel Lee and Riccardo Tisci were also mentioned.
“Virgil Abloh was a figure of diversity, of promoting the talents of color designers. It’s a symbolic subject, but the question concerns the fashion industry as a whole, more than Vuitton in particular”had still estimated Serge Carreira.