virgil abloh pays tribute to michael jackson for louis vuitton

The newly anointed King of Fashion looked at the ‘Man in the Mirror’ and celebrated the King of Pop for Louis Vuitton autumn/winter 19.

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17 January 2019, 5:53pm

Photography via @lubakilubaki

Most creative directors would struggle with second collection syndrome when following up a debut that was the moment of last season, but not Virgil Abloh. For Louis Vuitton autumn/winter 19, he looked at the Man in the Mirror and channeled the life, message and meaning of Michael Jackson. Virgil harnessed the popstar’s sequins, stardust and spirit to elevate everyday life and give luxury menswear new meaning.

“By destiny, and his advancing sense of identity, he became a culturally indefinable phenomenon: a universally relatable marvel,” the extensive show notes explained in reference to Michael Jackson. “Every person on Earth could mirror themselves in him. Every child and adult cheered for him. Lightyears ahead of his time, the boy inspired a cultural revolution that still reverberate today. That boy once walked among us. Michael Jackson was here,” they continued. And Virgil Abloh is here now, inspiring a new revolution that promises to change fashion forever.

Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton men’s debut was a moment unlike anything we’d seen in fashion before. Why? Because it meant so much more than a fresh proposition of luxury fashion, it encapsulated a seismic shift that was was a celebration of hope, diversity and beauty in a brave new world. He had fought against and broken down fashion’s walls. He’d gone from upstart outsider, to head of one France’s most historic fashion houses but he was never going to stop there. He had the blueprint for a new world to build upon, coining words for a new language that was forming. Indeed, as part of the show materials, showgoers were given an updated encyclopaedic A-Z; the third edition of The Vocabulary According To Virgil Abloh, and it continued to crystallise just why there is such interest around the designer and his rise to Louis Vuitton. From the “3%” needed to twist transform the ordinary into the extraordinary to “compressomorphosis” of accessories attached to garments, “flagification” celebrating the nationalities of the Louis Vuitton design team to his take on the zoot suit, as the Louis Vuitton lexicon grows, it’s increasingly apparent that Virgil is speaking the language of now and tomorrow.

Paying homage to the Broadway and the theatrical productions of Michael Jackson’s short films, Virgil brought a New York street scene to the the Tuileries Garden. On his corner of Ludlow and Rivington his star-studded cast of city-dwellers -- from Sheck Wes to Lucien Clarke and Octavian -- meandered through the cityscape in their new era everyday elegance, while graffiti artists Futura, Lewy and Jim Joe left their mark, all soundtracked by a live performance from a supergroup led by Devonte Hynes. Across from us, Naomi Campbell and Skepta clapped from the frow and whooped as a silk satin-clad Alton Mason backflipped down the runway, and recent i-D cover stars Timothée Chalamet and Frank Ocean danced in their seats.

More than a show, this was entertainment, this was a party.