Perceptions shift… In the Louvre’s Cour Carrée another emblematic institution rises for a finite, illusory moment. In this museal collaboration, Louis Vuitton converges on the most fascinating of territories: culture. Culture: what we see, what we accept, what we learn. What’s left to us….
Beaubourg is the symbol of a certain culture of fashion, when it takes a stand and expresses itself with a passion. Nicolas Ghesquière gained stature in an atmosphere of revival. And the Centre Pompidou, a fabulous example of generational architecture, represents the most captivating dialogue between a surprising construction and a historic Parisian neighbourhood. Paying homage to the clash of old and now is the very principle of a collection in which debate is deliberately lively, like a reverberation of the museum’s inauguration, in 1977.
The Fall-Winter 2019 collection speaks to a vision of fashion, when one is sure of one’s potential and knows with conviction that this is the path to follow. When everything one discovers in the enthusiasm of youth becomes the foundation of stylistic certainty. This collection is an invitation to cultural references. “Refinery” sweaters and “Carcass” dresses. The Monogram and the Damier oscillate on accessories in equal time.
A graphic juxtaposition that surfaces on the new “Monogram LV Pop” and the beginnings of the “The LV Arch”, a bag as classic as it is knowledgeable. A nod to the monumental clock that counted down four hundred million seconds to the third millennium. The elusive state of being known as the Parisian.
Paris: a centrifuge. Inside/outside silhouettes, the very legitimacy of a starry-eyed young man in Paris, what he’s made of and what he will become. What there is to be seen, sincerely. Just as the the Centre Pompidou was created, with all the functional elements on the outside, the better to dress the inside. The incredible feat of the Centre Pompidou that could also apply to fashion is the ID Code of fluidity, an architect’s glossary that’s both formal and fanciful. Green is water, blue is air, yellow is electricity. Red is human. At Beaubourg, as in fashion, everything’s a matter of flow. Power is identified through the gesture.
Nicolas Ghesquière: “The Centre Pompidou, Beaubourg, Les Halles, Place des Innocents: A fascinating incubator of a neighborhood. An incredible melange, converging in the epicenter. The cliques, the styles, the life… I love that imprvession of a sartorial melting pot. Today, I’ve transposed it at Louis Vuitton: a House of multiple expressions..”
“The Centre Pompidou is a prototype. It’s an artisanal piece. People may laugh, but it’s all handmade! Industrial production starts with a craftsman’s gesture. The great advantage you have when you create an industrial product is that, with the artisanal piece you make, you have the time and the opportunity to make it and remake it time and again. Which is to say that the circularity of the creative process, which means conceiving of something, producing it, re-conceiving it, re-producing it and starting over again, the circularity of the culture of doing, the material, of action… This mix feeds the culture of conceptions. Which has always been the human spirit of creative work.”
Renzo Piano, architect of the Centre Pompidou.
“It took shape, on paper, with places dedicated to all, of all ages and origins, a cross between the British Museum and Times Square. Between culture and the everyday. In a way, that’s what a space for living is. We were very worried at the beginning because I was afraid the building would be too cold and we wanted to create a cultural machine that would be, by turns, culture and machine, something that could evolve. We had five floors, each the size of two football pitches. So the idea was to adapt to the evolution of everyday life.”
Richard Rogers, architect of the Centre Pompidou.
Louis Vuitton thanks Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano, architects of the Centre Pompidou, as well as Serge Lasvignes, President of the Centre Pompidou.
Imagine a boy born in the 1950s, raised in the humble surroundings of Indiana. Imagine that boy fifty years on, evolved into the most recognisable and universal symbol of unity on the planet. There once was a boy, who saw the human nature we all take for granted with different eyes and transformed it into the most captivating ideas on Earth.
A boy whose prodigious talent catapulted him into unparalleled fame; whose boyhood, teen-age and adulthood unfolded before the eyes of the world. He was ever-present: a living, breathing, gradually evolving reference for the personal development experienced by every human being.
But this boy was larger than life. Through his mesmerising theatre, he brought together his audiences around the world in all their diversities, giving them a single beacon to which they could all relate. His art existed on a level accessible to all, drew on entities familiar to all, yet far exceeded the social impact of any other artist. Moving through the stages of life, the way we all do, he was compelled to constantly alter reality.
A footstep turned into gravity-defying dance, a sigh mutated into a throbbing beat, and every normal object around him was gilded in a new light. His only initial privilege was his talent: a superhuman ability to elevate everyday life and give its components new meaning. Through his ingenious lens, an ordinary wardrobe comprised of the staples familiar to us all became extraordinary; every jacket, glove, sock and hat fashioned into an instrument of awe.
From the swaddling garments of boyhood to the outgrown silhouettes of adolescence, the boy’s understanding of dress evolved on a public platform. Through his life, the boy established a wardrobe at once out-of-this-world and familiar to all. His life would become the only recorded study of a man’s sense of dress from boyhood through adulthood to play out on a globally observed stage. But this boy would become an example of multiplicity far beyond his own control.
Maturing in front of the world, his look grew remarkably differentwith age. By destiny, and his advancing sense of identity, he became a culturally indefinable phenomenon: a universally relatable marvel: 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 reverberates today. That boy once walked among us. Michael Jackson was here.
The Fall-Winter 2019 set, visualised in the image of the streets of New York City, features a live installation by graffiti artists JIM JOE, LEWY BTM and FUTURA. An original soundtrack, You Know What’s Good, is composed and performed live by DEVONTÉ HYNES aka BLOOD ORANGE along with MIKEY FREEDOM on vocals, HART on bass, and JASON ARCE on saxophone and flute.
The vocabulary according to Virgil Abloh
A liberal definition of terms and explanation of ideas.
# 3%. The exact ratio needed to twist a normative object into something special.
A Accessomorphosis. A portmanteau describing the transformation of an accessory into a garment, effectively evolving its functional form.
After party. A social gathering following a fashion show intended for industry guests but made great by the civilian fans of the brand in question.
B Bags. The ultimate expression of utility. For Spring-Summer 2019, bag designs are derived from the icons of Louis Vuitton and treated with Virgil Abloh’s 3% methodology.
Biography. Born in 1980, Virgil Abloh was raised in Rockford, Illinois. He earned a civil engineering degree from the University of Wisconsin in 2002 and an MA in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2006. Abloh served as creative director for Kanye West until launching his first label, Pyrex Vision, in 2012. The year after, he established Off-White. Virgil Abloh joined Louis Vuitton as Men’s Artistic Director in March 2018.
C Collaboration. A creative partnership between people or brands in which Virgil Abloh has often engaged in the past. Likewise linked to the business of Louis Vuitton for over a century, the Spring-Summer 2019 collection features no collaboration.
Collar. A shirt or jacket component indispensable in the codes of formalwear – a sector native to Louis Vuitton and foreign to its designer – its tips are clipped as a mark-making gesture of irony. “Virgil Abloh was here.”
D Denim. A workingman’s fabric typically elevated in high fashion, this common material relies on its unrefined familiar appeal to trigger the desired emotional connection. Virgil Abloh was raised on 1990s’ washed-out Levi’s jeans, stiff and vintagefound.
Designer. “I don’t call myself a designer, nor do I call myself an imagemaker. I don’t reject the label of either. I am not trying to put myself on a pedestal, nor am I trying to be more, now. I would like to define the title of Artistic Director for a new and different era.” –Virgil Abloh.
Disc Jockey. “I like loud music.” –Virgil Abloh.
Dorothy. A farm girl from the Midwest transported to Oz, a fairy tale land where she experiences things beyond the reach of her imagination. As an outsider, she soon discovers she was taken to Oz for a reason.
E Exposure. An apparatus recognized by designers in the social media age of fashion. Can lead to Artistic Director positions at Louis Vuitton.
F Fandom. A two-way worship between a designer and his clientele, fashion fandom mimics the codependent relationship between performer and supporter, a connection native to music and sports scenes.
G Gloves. Coverings for the hands employed by Virgil Abloh to accentuate the signature accessories of Louis Vuitton, the colors of gloves are purposely matched to the leather goods with which they are paired.
Graphics. A signature facet in the work of Virgil Abloh, graphic ornamentation no longer takes the form of prints but evolves into artisanal insignia, handembroidered, flocked and off the grid. It is hand-placed individually by Virgil Abloh.
H Halo. A circle of light formed around a fashion house and its collections encompassing the complete creative sphere and significance of a designer.
Harnessing. A term denoting a means of safekeeping, and the conversion of a decorative object into useful ornamentation.
I Irony. The philosophy of a new generation. The presence of Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton.
J Jewelry. Objects of decoration often characterized by an all-thatglitters- is-gold understanding of ornamentation, the Spring-Summer 2019 jewelry appears in ceramics or unrarefied metals denoting a contrasting celebration of non-precious materials.
K Kanye West. A mentor and friend to Virgil Abloh.
L Long-windedness. “A blessing and a curse.” –Virgil Abloh.
Louis Vuitton. Parisian purveyor of leather goods founded in 1854. Defined by its Monogram, the House invented logomania. Its brand value retains unparalleled standing across cultures and classes.
Luxury. A label determined by values, codes and qualities, its use and definition were the privilege of few until a new generation conquered its dominion and shifted the paradigm for good.
M Margielaism. A term applied to garments or accessories which reflect the normative fashion religion of a reverent generation of young or younger designers to which Virgil Abloh belongs.
Millennial. A term applied to consumers born between the late 1980s and 1990s, often linked to markets associated with Virgil Abloh, a non-millennial designer with millennial sensibilities.
Model. A person identified by the anatomical, racial and cosmetic features of his appearance. Or, by his artistry, individuality and personality.
Motto. “Good style is always off-putting.” –Virgil Abloh.
N Normcore. The irony of a generation raised on extravagance, and the makedo and mend sensibility of those with access to it.
O Off-White. A greige gradient of white, which alters a component familiar to all. It serves as a blank canvas for perception and interpretation.
Oz. A fantasy land visited by country girl Dorothy in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. Upon arrival after a cyclone transports her there, she tells her dog, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
P Palette. Black, white, off-white, and taupe. Ruby shoe red, brick road yellow, tin man metallic, garland green, and rainbow.
Poppy. A ruby red flower, whose exceptionally fragile structure is contrasted by its psychedelic, narcotic properties and hallucinogenic powers.
Production. A metaphor for finding drama in subtlety, the Spring-Summer 2019 audience of threethousand people is formed by the fashion industry and specially invited students. It creates an atmosphere representative of the dual demographic which will be wearing the collection at hand. Set in the gardens framed by the galleries of the Palais-Royal, sand is rendered like a rainbow while selected guests wear corresponding t-shirts, effectively activating the show through attendance.
Psychedelia. Originally a term for art created through means of intoxication, it describes an innocent sense of elation observed in trippy color formations and kaleidoscopic motifs.
R Rainbow. A kaleidoscopic palette evolving from off-white to polychromatic, synchronously forming a holographic archway known to represent dreams. A motif in The Wizard of Oz, which provides construct to the Spring-Summer 2019 collection.
Rationale. The underlying method of the Spring-Summer 2019 collection, looks are generally designed and styled employing the construction of a top layer, a bottom layer, a mid-layer and an outer layer.
Rockford. The Illinois town in which Virgil Abloh grew up, where Midwestern practicality and utilitarian workwear defined the
popular dress sense, effectively creating an unintentional take on anti-fashion.
S Shoes. The wardrobe component most immediately indicative of an era or movement, each shoe design finds its origins in a sports or vintage culture, from 1960s’ Chelsea boots to the golden era of 1980s’ basketball trainers.
Silhouette. “Revert against stiff and formal. Look as comfortable as you
feel.” –Virgil Abloh.
Sock. An unsung everyday necessity first covered in rhinestones by Michael Jackson in 1983, inspiring a generation of kids to elevate normality. As a child, Virgil Abloh became an early appropriator of the glitter sock.
Soundtrack. An inherent musical juxtaposition staged between a psychedelic jazz intro by BADBADNOTGOOD, which crescendos into I Thought About Killing You by Kanye West.
Staple. A twisted piece of metal that holds two elements together. A term for the essential garments and accessories in a wardrobe.
Streetwear. A predictable clothing genre in a renegade designer’s debut collection as part of the fashion establishment, but one whose sportswear properties are undergoing a critical transformation into luxury.
Styling. Once simply the addendum to a designer’s collection, it now serves as a contemporary fashion tool offered by a designer to the public as an initiation of ideas and ultimate self-expression.
Sunglasses. An accessory that gives the impression of a complete look in an instance. For Spring-Summer 2019 sunglasses reference eyewear from the Al Capone era of Chicago – Virgil Abloh’s former stomping grounds – and riff on the 2005 Louis Vuitton collaboration between Pharrell Williams and Nigo.
Sweats. “Fashion can either ignore what’s happening in the real world, or partake in it.” –Virgil Abloh.
T Tailoring. The paradoxical uniform of the business man, its suitcaseafflicted creases have become engrained in the anatomy of the blazer, forever folded for travel.
Taupe. Virgil Abloh’s favorite color since 1980.
Tie-dye. A homespun take on psychedelia, its trippy effects is often used to illustrate a state of euphoria. The DIY dying technique will hold nostalgic value to those educated at the University of Wisconsin, the foremost hippie college of all time.
Timepieces. Functional fusions between jewelry and clocks that effectively create a process of accessomorphosis, timepieces have been turned into true accessories through the employment of ceramic links in double-wrap configurations.
Tribal. A wealth of motifs identifying a designer’s most original origins and generational pride, they serve as the earliest memory of a boy raised by a Ghanaian tailor mother and her traditional West African garb.
U Utility. Once the luxury of workwear, utilitarian elements now provide fashion with equal parts functionality and pleonasm. It is the usefulness of a multipocket gilet, and the irony of wallet situated at the ankle.
Z “If you’ve made it this far, thank you for your time.” –Virgil.
A “collection”: a subjective and ideal ensemble of objects that reveal the profound traces of our character.
What is a fashion collection made of? It’s a multi-dimensional journey, facetted by experiences both immediate and distant. Shreds of discoveries, recollections transformed by memory, imaginative anticipation… Treasures brought back from unfamiliar lands or explorations into the intimacy of a wardrobe. A sentimental anthology of iconic images and ridiculous photos that still have primordial meaning.
Essential references and other, more singular ones that belong solely to the chapel of our personality.
That’s what a fashion collection is. It’s an inventory that embraces everything: a solemn past, a fertile present and the inevitably dreamlike future. A collection is a travel diary. It’s an open-ended journey into the world that reflects the daring paths of the spirit. It’s a sentimental adventure made of scattered inspirations and great aspirations. And it has only one means of locomotion: intuition.
The intuition of a garment and the way it’s orchestrated are the key to style. Understanding the excellence of a basic —the better to take it somewhere singularly imaginative— will always be the best path.
This collection is a proposition of style, an invitation on a journey about finding the momentum to transcend what we know so well in order to take it toward something we’d like to discover.