As Louis Vuitton CEO Michael Burke explained in an interview for WWD, menswear artistic director Virgil Abloh, who passed away in November 2021, had already taken care of every detail for the Parisian fashion house’s fall/winter 2022-2023 show. In the shape of the fall/winter 2021-2022 collection which combined performance and fashion show, we discover this season the British orchestra Chineke! directed by Gustavo Duhamel. At the Carreau du Temple, turned into the “Louis Dreamhouse”, the first European professional formation that includes a majority of Black, Asian artists and musicians from diverse ethnic backgrounds, performed a work by Tyler, The Creator, while sitting down at a large dining table. The artistic direction was made by Benj B, Virgil Abloh’s long-time collaborator. As the models wore Virgil Abloh’s new creations, they offered their hand to the dancers of Yoann Bourgeois’ company, while they performed some almost supernatural hip hop moves with meaningful and powerful gestures. Indeed, over the course of his unfortunately brief career, the founder of the label Off-White, who started designing for Vuitton in 2018, had always offered a helping hand for those around him – whether it was through his collaborations, his support to his peers or through Post Modern, the foundation he created to financially support young Black fashion students.
Once again, this collection magnifies the transition from childhood to adulthood, or what Virgil Abloh used to call the Boyhood Ideology, which defines a childish and judgement-free perspective. The silhouettes carry a patchwork of influences and references, not only to Louis Vuitton and to the artistic director’s American background, but also to the fashion industry’s savoir-faire and to pop culture. It goes from a tribute print to Asnières, where Louis Vuitton built its atelier, to a Japanese technique that assembles monogrammed pieces of denim, reminding an old collection made by Kim Jones for Louis Vuitton. It also stems from the painter Giorgio de Chirico’s work Souvenir d’Italie (1914), a great source of inspiration for Abloh who used it to design several pieces, from Gustave Courbet’s L’Atelier du peintre, which Virgil Abloh once used for his first Louis Vuitton’s campaign, as well as from a 19th century floral tapestry from the Gobelins manufacture. This contemporary wardrobe displays both formal and casual silhouettes. It also enhances kaftans and jellabas, while petticoats and men ankle boots with heel catch the eye. To conclude the collection, virginal white bride looks with tulle butterflies’ wings bring a gentle and poetic dimension to a deeply moving show.