Virgil Abloh's Louis Vuitton Debut Scores With a Rainbow of Covetable Clothes

Louis Vuitton Bag Detail Paris SS 2019 - Getty - H 2018
Peter White/Getty

The designer's exhuberance was undeniable.

Guests entering the highly anticipated Louis Vuitton runway show in Paris on Thursday found themselves walking a runway more than 2 ½ times longer than a football field that went from white through every color of the rainbow.

The effect was completed with coordinating color T-shirt-wearing students who were invited to watch the show alongside seated guests, who were also given a T-shirt in a color according to their place on the runway.

This being pride month, it was easy to mistake menswear creative director Virgil Abloh’s thought process. Luckily thanks to the new IGTV, he explained where the idea came from for the app-watching public. “It was this idea I had after my position was announced. I had others but this one hit me in the five hours that I flew over. It was this metaphor leaving Off-White and hitting this prism of Louis Vuitton and having access to the whole color spectrum.”

Given that, the collection he showed was chock full of merchandise — fabulous outerwear, sleek tailored pieces, sportswear as predicted a-plenty, accessories and bags galore, a trendy new sneaker, fly shades and T-shirts and trinkets, all of it covetable. With the amount of ideas that were flowing down the runway at any given time, Abloh’s exuberance was undeniable.

He opened with monochromatic all-white collection worn on models of color (Abloh made a point to show his model diversity in a world map included in liner notes that showed where each model and their parents were born). There was an equal balance of refinement and street — bibs and harness-style vests worn over more traditional tailored pieces or standards like T-shirts or parkas fashioned in a sheer mesh or a floral; the LV monogram that appeared on quilted fabrics on suits further mixed things up.

As the colors started to come — brown, sage green, red, blue — no color of the spectrum was left out. Neon pops of color appeared peppered throughout as gloves, vests and other “safety harnesses” fashioned as a wearable accessory (part of Abloh’s fashion alphabet, but more on that later).

Tie-dye on a series of more casual pieces didn’t look the slightest bit retro, especially when paired with the creative director's endless spins on fanny packs, cross-body bags, duffels and cases of all kinds.

Not to be forgotten, the collection moved into some denim streetwear pieces that were paired with vivid floral prints, such as on an embroidered, bomber-style jacket and a series of intarsia knit sweaters, pants and jackets depicting imagery from the "Wizard of Oz" — the rainbow making even more sense at this point. (Though if comparisons are to made to the wizard, Abloh has never been one to hide behind the curtain).

Perhaps there is something quite magical and Oz-like to Abloh ending up at the helm of this storied house's men’s collection though, the first African-American designer to do so in the brand's 164-year history. It was definitely that for family members in attendance from Illinois, who were taking in the scene and finding it all pretty surreal. “I am still in shock, but I know he can do it,” said mother Eunice. “I was just telling him I remember when he bought his first Louis Vuitton card holder.” She added that “he is still such a good guy and cool about everything.” Sister Edwina confirmed, noting that her parents (who are Ghanaian immigrants) have become minor celebrities themselves too with fans calling the house and even stopping by for photo ops and a potential freebie.

Any of Abloh’s critics will find it hard to take issue with his first outing, which was full of desirable and wearable pieces of RTW — a feat the accessories-driven house hasn’t consistently been able to achieve. And to make sure his message was clear, the designer added an A to Z “vocabulary according to Virgil Abloh,” expressing his fashion points of view just to be sure he is understood.

Nothing to worry about maison Louis Vuitton: the message is loud and clear and on point.