Chasing Virgil's Ghost In Paris
As men's Paris Fashion Week starts, Virgil Abloh's absence is felt even more.
Four years ago, history was made. Virgil Abloh presented his debut collection as the artistic director for Louis Vuitton men’s, putting models down a rainbow-colored runway to a live band under the direction of Benji B. It was a culture clash and mash up that, only under Abloh’s mastery of mixing things up, only feels more profound in retrospect.
The YouTube video post-show almost doesn’t give the vibe justice, as one of the things lost to digitization is the actual score that played during the show itself, from an orchestral rendition of several songs from Kanye West’s ye, eventually ending with “Ghost Town” as Virgil Abloh ran out after the finale, embracing LVMH head Bernard Arnault, and then hugging Kanye West tightly as they both cried.
That hug was felt around the world, but it signified the end of a journey the two started a long, long time ago. The multidisciplinary creatives had broken the barrier they saw as interns at Fendi. Abloh’s ascent to the top of the mountain, the kid from Chicago who became the Wizard of Oz, was an improbable moment that showed so many like-minded kids that yes, they could do it too.
That sentiment was shared by Tremaine Emory, noting in a recent post that one of Abloh’s first grail pieces—a Wizard of Oz-inspired knit with the main characters silhouetted out—is indeed a representation of Abloh, West, Don C, and Ibn Jasper. “The rest of the rogue squadron that took the heroes journey to uncharted territory where they were unwanted and they ventured regardless to find that wizard behind the curtain of the fashion industry to get that fire that knowledge & opportunity and bring it back to the people,” notes Emory.
And as Paris Men’s Fashion Week once again kicks off, many of Abloh’s friends, contemporaries, and mentors will continue to carry the torch he lit. John Elliott makes his runway debut, Matthew Williams will present his latest Givenchy collection, rumors abound about a possible Dior x Denim Tears collaboration, and Louis Vuitton may very well present a posthumously-designed collection by Abloh, who no doubt left a rich archive of codes and unreleased work to sort through.
Although there’s already a palpable energy in the air as a younger generation continues the PFW takeovers spearheaded by Abloh, like Reese Cooper celebrating his Levi’s collaboration and latest show with a block party DJed by some of Abloh’s associates, it can make Abloh’s absence feel even bigger.
Emory’s analogy of the “Sunroof of the Trojan Horse” signifies that as short-lived as Abloh’s time on earth was, his legacy was opening the door for the next generation that will succeed him. The mythical Trojan horse was full of an army after all, not just a select few.