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The designer’s debut for the Louis Vuitton SS19 collection ended with a hug that made more headlines than the collection itself. Now that some time has passed, we can look back to one of the iconic moments in the contemporary history of fashion: that embrace between two of the world’s most influential people, Virgil and Kanye.
It is normal that we have spent days talking about this gesture, considering all that it means: the recognition of the triumph of two friends in the world of fashion, after a long career that brings with it, in addition to the personal level, the triumph of a new vision for the industry, more inclusive and open to new ways of approaching culture.
And that´s because culture – and above all, His Culture – is something inherent to the work of the Ghanaian-American designer, to which he constantly refers. Not for nothing, we are at a time in history when, perhaps for the first time, black people are leading the way in the creation of modern art.
Beyoncé and Jay Z rapping in front of the Mona Lisa. Kanye West helping to transform Kim Kardashian into a priceless work of art. Multi-faceted queen midas, Rihanna. Migos goes for the second volume of “Culture”. Virgil at the head of the luxury fashion sector.
Louis Vuitton SS19 | Full Show
They are now the vanguard of modern creativity, but is it possible that this is distracting attention from what is really relevant to African Americans? Childish Gambino is a great example of a self-conscious artist, capable of highlighting the reality and problems of his race in everything he does, even if at times it means charging himself – as in This is America – or portraying certain aspects of his culture – as in his Atlanta series.
So, is Virgil’s (@virgilabloh) just another case of “self-made successful man”? Or is his self-referential art, his meteoric career and his individualistic discourse as self-conscious as Donald Glover’s music?
It is clear that there is a duality between individualism and activism in his discourse. The guests to the show received as a gift a t-shirt, which according to the designer himself is a wink to his beginnings with the photocopying machine in the office and to and beginnings in the fashion world in general, where the t-shirts – pure streetwear – could represent a dream. They also received a dictionary with his personal definitions of fashionable terminology, making it clear where he cames from and where he is going. Just him. But it is worth mentioning the intention put in the casting. With a map that showed the origins of the models and their ancestors (most of them black) that according to Virgil spoke of the traveling DNA of the French company.
So is Virgil using Louis Vuitton as a platform to change the industry from the inside? or is Louis Vuitton using Virgil’s “person” to sell more to a new audience of wealthy millennials who are far from paying attention to any of the relevant issues we’ve been talking about? And above all, what does the fashion industry celebrate with his new position?
Louis Vuitton SS19 | Looks
It celebrates the arrival of all these new questions – perhaps more interesting than the collection itself – and that’s why many headlines talked about the hug in the first place. Because, as in his designs, Virgil always wants us to turn our eyes to the really essential things. By doing so, the show opened with 17 monochrome white looks, and the designer stated that he made that decision because color would distract attention from substantial things, such as craftsmanship, silhouette, material or detail. Like the beam of white light that collides with a prism breaking down into the colors of the rainbow, the next designs take on color, increasing the saturation, while keeping the shapes clean and stoic. The accessories provide a technical and almost military character.
We attend a parade of constant rhythm that closes with some clothes that make reference to the greatest classic of the American popular culture: the Wizard of Oz. The show is sealed with the hug of which we spoke at the beginning, and the moment becomes an instant icon of the celebration of the industry. The celebration of “Virgil Abloh”.