Louis Vuitton: Men’s fall-winter 2022 and the art of travel in Bangkok
Some 18 months after his passing, Louis Vuitton displayed another nine looks designed by its late menswear creative director Virgil Abloh in the house’s Fall-Winter 2022 Spin-Off Show of menswear held in Bangkok.
A punchy mash-up of athletic sportswear, natty tailoring, logo eccentricity and Gustave Courbet prints seen in 74 looks unveiled in southeast Asia on Wednesday evening.
A father gently caresses his son, who lies beside his own guitar, waking to descend his waterside home on stilts in the opening image of the 22-minute video. Before swimming clothed into the murky waters to reach a floating platform and consider the distant horizon, in a metaphor for this brand’s love of travel and expanding horizons. A cinematic prelude called I Dream of You, shot by filmmaker Sivaroj Kongsakul.
Whereupon we segued into the show, models walking on a mock railway track, out from a De Chirico-worthy surreal backdrop of a upside-down suburban house. Entitled 'Louis Dreamhouse2 Bangkok, June 2022' – an architectural extension to the Vuitton Dreamhouse seen in Paris in this January’s show.
Though the single most important color was metallic purple, the action opened with crisp, courtly black wool gabardine suits; chauffeur’s jackets paired with shorts or long town coats, recalling Otto Dix entre-deux guerres paintings.
Since his passing, Louis Vuitton menswear has been created by Abloh’s design team, yet one could sense his power in mash-up prints that blended cartoon heroes, childish graphics, tie-dye colors, bucolic prints and images culled from Gustave Courbet and Giorgio De Chirico.
The late Impressionist’s canon raided with multiple images of The Painter’s Studio; and the Italian metaphysical master’s Melancholia tossed into several mixes.
Logos everywhere, from baseball jackets and purple monogram-bonded blousons to LV trainers, loon pants in faded gray monogram denim or ankle-length parkas. Plus, plenty of red-carpet and clubbing gear – whether the copper sequined or turquoise velvet suits, or satin Batman hats.
However, quite why a company as rich as Vuitton chose such a hackneyed soundtrack and didn’t pay for something original was hard to fathom. Playing tracks by Stereolab or Can that we have heard before in many shows and in many cities.
A show of kicky accessories - including Swiss roll-shaped bags; matelassé weekend bags; or deep purple puffy Daimler Keepall sacks. Most eye-catchingly even a Vuitton-logo paint can.
“We might go to India or Kansas or Cuba, but wherever we go the focus is youth: the stage in your life before you’ve been taught or programmed to do, think or wear certain things. And taught or programmed to do, think or wear certain things. And in that study, you realize that teenagers on opposite sides of the world are dealing with the same things. It reflects the fact that, fundamentally, we are all one,” said Abloh in a 2019 pulled quote in the program notes.
Apart from some monogram looks covered in chrysanthemums in logo denim or silk; multiple Asian models and the Indo-Chinese habit of wearing baseball caps twisted halfway around the head, there was precious little about Thailand in this show. Like his final Vuitton collection, presented posthumously in Paris, this display ended with a half-dozen guipure lace-winged angels paired with girls' shorts and ballet dancers’ tutus. All illuminated by a yellow Rising Sun that moved around the railway track throughout the show.
In his all too brief career, Abloh ended up becoming the hottest voice in luxury menswear, almost overnight making a legion of “young” designers looked old-fashioned, out of date and hackneyed.
Whose ability to surprise – albeit by harnessing the ideas of multiple other artists and designers – made him a revolutionary designer. One whose influence lives on, most notably in this collection and show.
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