The People vs Virgil

23.06.2018 | Blog , Culture , Fashion | BY:

Twin contributor Jordan Anderson considers the impact of Virgil Abloh’s first collection for Louis Vuitton.
Earlier today, Ghanian-American fashion designer Virgil Abloh presented his first collection as creative director of Louis Vuitton Menswear in the gardens of the Palais Royale for Paris Fashion Week.
Since his appointment in March, the news of a black man at the helm of one of fashion’s most prestigious French houses has of course caused some stir and split opinions between fans and fashion critics. This was not just any black man, but specifically Virgil Abloh.
I, particularly as man of colour, was on the fence about the decision. Only two men of colour had ever held such positions, Ozwald Boateng at Givenchy and Olivier Rousteing at Balmain. On one BLACK hand, I was overflown with joy, and completely elated that another man that looked like me had finally landed such a position. The story of an immigrant, arriving to the US, starting his journey in fashion and being so successful in his efforts to the point where he now sits at the head table of one oldest fashion labels in history is undeniably inspiring. This would be a monumental moment, not just for black people, but for anyone of colour who has ever felt excluded from a conversation in the walls of fashion as a result of skin colour, culture or heritage.
On  the other hand, as a  detester of the ranks of fashion as a popularity contest, I was torn. Abloh and his label Off-White for me and many represent a millennial-friendly fast-selling branch of fashion which often sacrifice quality and ingenuity for mass sales/trendiness. Prior to this appointment, Virgil to me was but a DJ and a businessman. I assumed his label was a business he would pick up every season to use his influence to create a few stirs among millennials to make some extra bucks. Which in this case would be fine. We’re all hustlers, and you definitely don’t have to go to fashion school to be a designer. However where was I to be left when I found out that one of fashion’s “influencers” was taking over an historic French fashion house. Was this like Kendall Jenner becoming photo editor for Vogue?

 I had no idea what to expect. As I tuned in to Louis Vuitton’s live Instagram stream and got a glimpse of the location, goose bumps grew on my skin. I was excited. My heart started racing as I witnessed an army of computed men in white, opening the multi-coloured runway. This was Virgil’s moment:  it was his peak, and I was extremely excited for the masterpiece which he seemed to have created. LVMH may have hired him for his savvy business approach but regardless, I saw this as a win for us.
After the emotions faded and the show ended I then went back and had a look at the collection. The hints of his brand Off-White were evident. There was not much innovation but it was better than I expected. This was a luxury version of his own brand and a deconstructed version of the Louis Vuitton we had been used to. It was relatively safe ground: double breasted blazers, two pleated trousers  paired with holsters and harnesses. Nothing too new for fashion, but definitely new for the French fashion house.
LVMH were certainly ahead of the curve hiring a designer that brings streetwear to the luxury space. Virgil Abloh might not be an innovator, or to some, not even a designer, but he sure is a hell of a showman.
Feature image via Louis Vuitton Instagram. 

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