After showing his Louis Vuitton FW20 collection in Paris last week, Virgil Abloh said that work had been on his mind lately: what it means, how it looks, and how it ought to feel in 2020.
And that’s not entirely surprising. Abloh had become synonymous with the grind culture of the 2010s. His schedule was less a traditional agenda and more an itinerary – he’d jump between projects in the fashion, design and music worlds while jetting around continents, working off an iPhone or a MacBook. He’d design collections for Off-White and Vuitton, simultaneously. He’d drop an IKEA collab in Sweden, or a furniture piece at the Venice Biennale. And then, last year, he needed to stop, electing to take a few months off for medical leave.
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With his comeback shows in Paris this month, his aesthetic showed a maturation. Tailoring came to the fore, but, particularly in the case of his LV collection, Abloh deftly blended the old and the new.
There were camel suits in winter fabrications, paired with subtle pinstripe shirts. Powder blue harness-like tank tops sat over shirts and ties. Cummerbunds were reimagined for the workday. Accessories like tie-bars and rings came in neon hues and elevated the precise, more conservative tailoring that accompanied them.
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At first glance, it was as conservative a collection as Abloh has presented. But the details in accessories, in fabrications, in little twists and turns, made it feel unmistakably him. This clash and tension also made it Abloh’s most exciting Vuitton collection to date.
In a comprehensive vocabulary document circulated after the show, one phrase jumped out. It was Abloh’s idea of de-appropriation: “the act of overwriting the conventional associations of traditional dress codes and claiming them for a new generational state of mind.”
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And that’s what this show felt like, more than anything: the idea that, presented the right way, a suit, shirt and tie can be the most rebellious thing you wear all week.