As part of Miami’s Art Basel event, luxury house Louis Vuitton hosted a runway featuring its spring/summer 2022 menswear line, the last collection designed by the recently passed Virgil Abloh. The show, called Virgil is Here, converted into a tribute to the late designer and artistic director of the brand following his passing on November 28.
Louis Vuitton’s chief executive officer, Michael Burke, opened the show with a speech that reminisced on his meeting with Abloh in Tokyo 15 years ago. Friends, collaborators and celebrities close to the creator were also present at the presentation, including the likes of Kim Kardashian, Kanye West and LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault.
Alongside the show, Louis Vuitton shared a manifesto by Abloh from July 2020. In it, he said: “Stating the obvious is not in my nature, but I am a believer in the power of documentation. As I restart my engines at Louis Vuitton and take off for a future of new possibilities, I look back at my port of departure. Under my artistic direction, I see my Louis Vuitton Men’s collections as my platform of nuance. I strive to employ fashion to reflect and affect ideals of inclusivity, unity and humanity.”
“It’s my desire to imbue the traditional codes of luxury with my own progressive values...”
The collection presented, originally shown during Paris Fashion Week in June, touched on themes of rave culture, martial arts and gender. Key items in the line include monogrammed nylon jackets and patchwork cotton shirts, as well as panelled pieces consisting of geometric shapes.
Handbags were also prominent additions, some with the traditional branded print across them and others with distinct landscape portraits encasing the surface.
Further into the designer’s manifesto, he spoke of his desire to present an inspiring mirror for ‘young men of colour’ to reflect upon themselves and references Dorothy’s trip in the Wizard of Oz as a parallel to his journey through fashion. He emphasises the importance of nuances within his work, as he strived to change the discourse of luxury fashion.
“I believe in nuance because I believe in the intelligence and perceptiveness of my audiences,” he continued. “As I proceed, and continue to infuse my vision with black aesthetics and inclusivity, I will never underestimate them. Through my own reality, I am interested in the reversal of the expected roles of races within society, and the discourse it creates. I am interested in contributing to the progression of fashion’s relationship with labels and stereotypes: “designer” versus “image-maker”, “luxury” versus “streetwear”, or the nuanced idea of streetwear versus “streetwear” itself.
“In my game of inverted commas, streetwear is a community founded in subculture, while “streetwear” is a commodity founded in fashion.”