Louis Vuitton’s designer Virgil Abloh transported celebrity guests at Paris Fashion Week to the graffitied streets of New York in a dramatic menswear ode to Michael Jackson.
Abloh, the first African-American to head a major European fashion house, used his unique platform Thursday (Jan. 17) to celebrate one of America’s most globally recognized and celebrated black performers.
Here are some highlights of Thursday’s fall-winter shows.
Louis Vuitton Goes Off the Wall
Model Naomi Campbell, actors Timothee Chalamet and Joel Edgerton and singer/songwriter Frank Ocean seemed amazed to discover a reconstructed cityscape that evoked the King of Pop’s famed music videos, all inside the Tuileries Gardens.
A young, skinny actor resembling the late Jackson as a boy drew applause as he ran and danced across the impressive set of a poor New York neighborhood.
No detail was spared.
Guests clutched their show invites that comprised a single bejeweled white glove, as their eyes were led past a Chinese business store, New York street signs, sidewalks littered with dead leaves, and a barber shop ending at a saxophonist playing on the street.
Campbell nodded to the beat of the soundtrack — an infectious checklist of Jackson’s greatest hits that had some humming well after the show had ended.
“It’s Michael Jackson. My hero,” she exclaimed.
Vuitton’s Abloh Revisits Jackson
It was the flamboyance of Michael Jackson as seen through the classical prism of Louis Vuitton.
The silhouettes of some of the late star’s most eye-popping looks were taken by Abloh and revisited in a slightly more pared-down style.
A military jacket and large sash — that might have come across overly showy — were designed in a tasteful pearl-gray monochrome cashmere.
Elsewhere, a giant cropped jacket with stiff padded lapels was saved from excess with soft charcoal flannel twill.
The signature layering of the singer, who died in 2009, was ubiquitous in the 64-piece parade that went from the subtle to the not so subtle toward the end.
An overlaid silver parka coat in aluminum foil leather and a silver safety vest were among the most literal of the Jackson odes and recalled some of his most spectacular concert performances, as did the models who wore jeweled gloves.
Later in the show, Abloh made a series of prints based on a cartoon in Jackson’s 1978 film The Wiz that became a cult classic among black audiences.
Abloh called his hero, Jackson, “the universal symbol of unity on the planet.” Though touching, the collection could have perhaps done without the scarf shirts fashioned out of global flags that came across as a tad busy and somewhat obvious.
Rick Owens Blows a Kiss
A brooding and saucy mood overtook lauded American designer Rick Owens in a ’70s-style collection Thursday.
The show was entitled “Larry,” after U.S. designer Larry LeGaspi, whose silver and black space looks were worn by rock groups such as Kiss.
The fall-winter show was very much an homage to the bombastic styles of LeGaspi, about whom Owens has written a book.
Tan, sienna, deep vermillion and lashings of black in the clothes were highlighted by sensually dappled lighting.
Excess was simply everywhere.
Enveloping retro shades, peaked shoulders, oversized sleeves, flares and David Bowie-style tight waists set the time-dial very much to the era of Glam Rock.
As if that weren’t enough, Owens pushed the envelope further with painted white faces and inset leather appliques that resembled women’s genitals. They contrasted purity with provocation.
LeGaspi “helped set a lot of kids like me free with his mix of art-deco sexual ambiguity,” Owens said.
Issey Miyake Brings the Wind
The Franco-Japanese house of Issey Miyake put on a collection in homage to the wind.
In the fall-winter silhouettes, it was not the wind of an angry storm at work, but more a gentle breeze that served to curve and soften the clothes’ shapes.
The result was a low-key affair by designer Yoshiyuki Miyamae.
A welcome sharpness did appear in the collection via its print detailing, but its power was diluted by the rounded shapes.
For instance, some jagged yellow diagonal motifs evoked the strong movement of wind — but the looseness of the suits and coats on which they appeared lessened the effect.
The prints were conceived by an Asian wax resistant dyeing technique called batik that the house frequently uses. Issey Miyake is one house that cannot be faulted for its use of cutting-edge fashion-making methods.
Elsewhere, another Asian technique, ikat — a sort of tie-dye — was employed to produce the collection’s strongest pieces.
A silk-wool series sported beautifully defused white horizontal bands across icy blue-gray pants and shimmering coats.