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Virgil Abloh’s Inspiring Louis Vuitton Fashion Show was a Game Changer for the Brand

Fashion designer Virgil Abloh has never been one to follow the rules.

As the head of Louis Vuitton’s Men’s Fashion line, he has not only broken but smashed barriers for his vision of menswear. His last show in Miami showcased his rule-breaking attitude.

The Louis Vuitton runway show in Miami was a true spectacle. The show at the Art Basel fair featured models wearing aviator sunglasses, midriff-baring tops and graphic tees, as well as Instagram-worthy printed suits. It was an explosion of colour and pattern that’s sure to be copied by other brands for seasons to come. The show made it clear that Virgil Abloh is not afraid to break conventions and take risks when it comes to menswear.

This morning, we woke up to the news that Virgil Abloh had passed away. The designer, architect and DJ was only just forty-six, and in the middle of a global tour for his first full collection for Louis Vuitton. The fact that he was scheduled to show on Thursday in Paris, as part of the brand’s menswear fashion week schedule, makes this tragedy feel particularly cruel.

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The last few days of November were an emotional time for many. As fashion brands and celebrities took to Instagram to pay tribute to the late designer, Virgil Abloh, so too did the people who had come to know him over the years. As his team at Louis Vuitton was busy preparing for his final collection – which is set to be shown in Paris today – one can’t help but think that he would want this show to go forward.

Given that this is the first-ever Louis Vuitton runway show to be held outside of Europe, we’re surprised by how little creative license Demna Gvasalia has taken. Sure, it feels like a long time since fashion got excited by a hot air balloon (we’re talking about you, Marc Jacobs Spring/Summer ‘03), but the rest of the show is a welcome return to form for LV. Unlike seasons past, there’s no attempt to reinvent things here – and what a relief that is. This show is all about embracing the house’s heritage, which Gvasalia does with real flair.

This is the first time Abloh, a soft-spoken native of Ghana who grew up in Rockford, Illinois, has staged his show in the US. His label Off-White makes streetwear that is sold at Barneys and other luxury retailers around the world. A graduate of the prestigious Parisian fashion school École des Beaux-Arts, Abloh – who was named artistic director of menswear for Louis Vuitton in March 2018 – worked with West on the rapper’s Yeezy label before establishing his own brand in 2013.

With his debut Louis Vuitton collection, Virgil Abloh has conjured a believable vision of the future. His show opens with a voiceover talking about a return “to childhood wonderment”, while a repeating visual motif of a red hot air balloon suggests Oz and, perhaps, ascension to the afterlife.

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