The collection – Abloh’s eighth since his groundbreaking appointment to the 168-year-old house in 2018 – was unveiled Thursday at Paris Fashion Week in a repeat format: first for press and influencers, then, a few hours later, for friends and family.
Naomi Campbell, friend and collaborator of Virgil Abloh, closes the Louis Vuitton show at Paris Fashion Week. Credit: Louis Vuitton
Running the show was a team effort led by Ib Kamara, a Sierra Leone-born multidisciplinary designer and editor of fashion publication Dazed. Kamara, whose high-profile style gigs have included Fenty ads for Rihanna and numerous international Vogue covers, began collaborating with Abloh ahead of Louis Vuitton’s Spring/Summer 2021 collection. Since then, he has styled Louis Vuitton menswear shows as well as campaigns.
During a Zoom call from Paris, Kamara spoke candidly about the process. “We wanted to keep him where we thought Virgil was with us, but push him where Virgil would have taken him,” he said. “One of the brightest things about the man was that he could introduce radical new ideas every season, but those ideas were also tied to past seasons.”
Ib Kamara at the Fashion Trust Arabia Prize 2021 on November 3, 2021 in Doha, Qatar. Credit: David M. Benett/Getty
Louis Vuitton CEO Michael Burke echoed that sentiment in an interview with trade publication Women’s Wear Daily. “There’s a circular aspect to it, so it goes back to some things that were surprising in the first show (in 2018)…there are other metaphors that he’s always used: there’s the house metaphor , the boy metaphor.” One element of Abloh’s debut show that resurfaced in Fall/Winter 2022 was a “Wizard of Oz” motif.
Abloh also retained an abiding fascination with dreams, youth and the – often abstract – concept of home, and the whole of Thursday’s show reflected a mix of all of this. The presentation was staged in a surreal periwinkle dreamscape, with a full orchestra performing from a reclining dining room table to a score by rapper Tyler the Creator. There was a half-buried house, a Shaker-esque chair that collapsed and straightened up, and a king-sized bed.
Models prepare to parade, backstage at the Louis Vuitton show in Paris. Credit: Louis Vuitton
The performers and models danced, jumped on the bed and seemed to have restless bouts – lost, or rather enthralled in their daydreams.
Other hints and dashes of Abloh’s Louis Vuitton design features that reappeared in his latest show included pointed-ear hats, varsity jackets and colorful iterations of the house’s signature Keepall duffel bags.
Kamara noted that “there’s a big play on the tapestry. The team has really taken it to a new dimension. Virgil’s spin on the tapestry, whether it’s in bags or clothes and jackets. .. that’s enough… there’s a preciousness and care to I think it’s very bold in menswear to introduce this care Stereotypically, men are supposed to be “strong”, but there’s has a tricky point of view here.”
There was a moving ethereal quality to the presentation, lacy kites fashioned into angelic wings. Credit: Louis Vuitton
This perspective was made pretty clear with looks that included sheer lace kites, worn down the back to mimic wings. These contained the obvious suggestion of something angelic, but underneath, a more resonant message – to be young and to dream is always to look up.
“I believe Virgil would have been happy,” Kamara said. “I think the most enduring thing here…is that it could really bring some freshness while still getting that same cohesive feeling. I see it that way: old flames, but with a romance that still feels new.”