virgil abloh named men's wear designer for Louis Vuitton
I must confess.
I don't know Virgil Abloh very well.
I know, I know, shame on me. He used to be Kanye West's creative director (still is? Apparently that's one of the only things he can't really discuss in interviews). He is (was?) the creative designer for Off-White, a luxury fashion label and streetwear company based in Milan. Before founding OFF-WHITE in 2012, (both ways of writing it is ok), he was (and still is?) a DJ. Tbh, the only thing I knew about Abloh was that he designed the cover for Watch the Throne, the Kanye / Jay-Z album and that he was nominated for a Grammy for that. Now that I know how wide and expansive he's CV is, I think that becoming the lead designer for a fashion house was kind of the obvious next step.
Honestly, kinda like Vêtements, I don't really get OFF-WHITE c/o VIRGIL ABLOH™ (another acceptable way of writing it). Is it truly a fashion house? I know them more for their casual clothes and streetstylewear than anything else, or the collaborations they've done with brands like Dr. Martens. In that sense, should we talk about him as a designer of fashion -- the fashion version of the graphic designer? I was having a chat with a designer / artist yesterday, and she was telling me how designers are used to having clients telling them what to do, and finding creative ways of answering to their clients' needs, creating a design and an imagery that would be relevant to the ask. Is off-white (me being lazy finding where to put my capital letters) answering to the people wearing streetwear, but wanting to give a specific statement, which is "I wear street clothes made by a Black man who used to DJ therefore I'm relevant"?
What will become of Louis Vuitton's menswear now that Abloh the lead designer? How was Louis Vuitton menswear before Abloh (I concentrate my research on women's fashion so I can't currently answer that, but I could make the research)? According to the New York Times, and which I find fascinating, is that "Mr. Abloh’s appointment is (...) a reflection of the increasing consumer-driven intermingling of the luxury and street wear sectors, which helped boost global sales of luxury personal goods by 5 percent last year to an estimated 263 billion euros (about $325 billion in today’s dollars)". It's true that Off-White is made for the "mass" (with a lot of disposable income, mind you), for people that are not necessarily interested in buying from the most prominent fashion houses, but are interested in owning something cool; will he give that sense of cool to Louis Vuitton? Was he hired only to increase sales?
The most important question I am not asking though: will Virgil Abloh become the token Black guy, hired by the white leadership in order to show progress in the company, but soon targeted for any and every small problem, until he is "no longer a good fit" for Louis Vuitton? That is what I am most curious about. We're talking about a Black men working a high position in France. Let's not be blind here.
It is nice, however, that Virgil Abloh is the first designer nominated for the LVMH Young Designer prize to take on a lead role at LVMH. It's like when you get an internship at the a big museum during your studies, and it leads to a job. It's "elating", if I may use Abloh's word when he got the news of his appointment.
So I'll make more research on Abloh, OFF-WHITE c/o VIRGIL ABLOH™, and Louis Vuitton menswear. I hope to find something I will enjoy because, like Issa Rae: