At Louis Vuitton, Michael Jackson Forever

New York Times Article 1/18/19

PARIS — When Chris Brown and Gunna fired up spliffs in the front row at the Yohji Yamamoto show on Thursday, it was a sure signal that fashion had crossed into new territory.

The outlines of the landscape we’ve now entered are starkly unlike the one that came before in ways that are as much attitudinal as demographic. Fashion can’t afford anymore to be precious or exclusionary. Instagram unlatched the gate to a once largely closed realm and the world rushed in.


“There’s that incense again,” Ben Cobb, editor in chief of Another Man magazine said as he settled into a front-row seat earlier that afternoon for Virgil Abloh’s sophomore show as artistic director of men’s wear for Louis Vuitton. He was referring to the skunky odor of vaped weed.

Louis Vuitton men’s, fall 2019.CreditValerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times

“I’m so high right now,” Mr. Cobb added. He meant contact high, to be clear.

The whole industry seems a bit buzzed right now, with designers as disparate as Mr. Abloh at Vuitton men’s and Pierpaolo Piccioli at Valentino seeming to quote from the same cheat sheet during backstage interviews, spouting a gospel of an inclusivity that has been too long in coming. And then there was Demna Gvasalia, frankly referencing in his new Vetements collection the sinister aspects of the dark web.

The week’s tentpole event, Mr. Abloh’s show for Vuitton, was held in a graffiti-covered tent erected in the Tuileries gardens. Outside, mobs of teenagers chased after celebrity arrivals like Frank Ocean, Offset, Timothée Chalamet and Kid Cudi as French soldiers in camouflage gear patrolled the park with automatic weapons clutched to their chests. This is the new abnormal.

The Vuitton show was presented on a set replicating the Alphabet City backdrop of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” video and Mr. Jackson was the stated inspiration for the collection. “Michael Jackson was the most important person in innovating men’s wear ever,” Mr. Abloh said in an interview before the show at the headquarters of Vuitton’s parent group, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.  [Read More New York Times]