During his eight collection residency, Virgil Abloh, who passed away in November 2021, turned the house of Louis Vuitton upside down and inside out. He made the exclusive inclusive. Autumn-winter 2022 collection apparently marked the final segment of that arc, and in the set at least it appeared to come full circle. The collection was named “Louis Dreamhouse“, and around the runway were scattered the upended elements of a house that had been hit by some enormous force of energy now spent. In one corner was a staircase, from which opening dancers bounced up and down on hidden trampolines. An empty bed rested alongside the roof and chimney, from which a homey puff of steam emerged. On the other side of the roof was a long dining table, down which sat the Chineke! Orchestra musicians whose performance of a Tyler the Creator-composed piece contributed swooningly to making the show so moving. On the wall above them a stopped clock read the time as eight, on the dot.
The collection unfolded on 20 dancers and 67 models. Abloh’s great gift as both designer and lightning rod – masterfully to navigate an elusive commonality of commodity and community in order to service the former and uplift the latter – was posthumously still very much alive, even when referencing death. The inclusion of a Jim Phillips-esque Grim Reaper graphic was a breathtaking detail from a man designing his own legacy while gazing upon his own mortality. Bags came shaped as bouquets. The closing four all-white looks, some featuring Leonardo-esque wings, required no interpretation. Then there were the two tapestried looks, one on a topcoat, the other on an acutely waisted parka, upon which were reproduced De Chirico’s The Melancholia of Departure, a piece the artist created multiple versions of. These, said the notes, were illustrative of the 2020 Abloh-termed concept named “Maintainamorphosis,” defined as “the principle that ‘old’ ideas should be invigorated with value and presented alongside the ‘new,’ because both are equal in worth.” Returning then to the “old,” it was back in June 2018 for collection 1, his very first for Louis Vuitton, that Abloh transmitted multiple references to The Wizard Of Oz, all of them specific to Dorothy’s dream. As members of Abloh’s design studio came out en masse to a standing ovation after his very last collection for Louis Vuitton, they stood within the inside-out of Abloh’s cyclone-scattered dreamhouse.
What an irreplaceable force he was. Gone too soon.
Virgil Abloh / 30.09.1980 – 28.11.2021
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.