What’s at the end of a rainbow? At the end of Louis Vuitton’s S/S 19 rainbow runway was Virgil Abloh, the newly appointed creative director, whose first collection at the house struck gold. In the blazing heat, onlookers walked from white to green, to purple, finding their seat in front of students Abloh had invited to watch.
The Wizard of Oz is an often used reference in fashion, it can be celebratory or melancholic, but in this case, it felt a little emotional. ‘There’s no place like home’ says Dorothy as she clicks her heels, and the helm of Louis Vuitton is where Abloh has found his.
Slick suiting and triple pleated trouser came in all colours of the rainbow and were a repeated motif throughout. Variations of harness - some in electric neon, some with multiple pockets and some only slung over shoulder were a strong injection of luxury leather accessory. Elements that Kim Jones had left in his wake were still here in the shadows too; leather shorts, digital prints and sheer textures, but for the most part Abloh’s first show was a new dimension for the land of Louis Vuitton.
LV tags hanging from trainer reminded one of the ubiquitous orange Off-White tags that Abloh is so recognised for and a transparent, iridescent, monogrammed holdall felt reminiscent of Abloh’s most recent collaboration with Rimowa. There were other nods to Abloh’s signatures here too, with neon laces and typography heavy t-shirts in the front row, but these were welcome easter eggs amongst the printed leathers, detailed jewelled embroidery and utility bags.
Part of the difficulty many had with Off-White was its ill-suited strive for the top luxury market; now at Louis Vuitton, Abloh can flex his need for artisanal taste and Off-White, as we saw for S/S 19, is all the better for it. Between Abloh’s rousing community support and his peers - Kid Cudi, Steve Lacy, A$AP Nast etc - walking the show, this collection had optimism and compassion aplenty. The characters of The Wizard of Oz are looking for a brain, for a heart, and for courage on their journey down the yellow brick road and here it was clear that Abloh has those qualities by the bucket-load. This was always going to be a divisive show - many are skeptical about such a hyped streetwear enthusiast at the forefront of one of the most influential and traditional design houses - but this was supportive, inclusive, exciting, desirable and ultimately jolly good.