Kaleidoscopes – nestled on seats – greeted guests at Louis Vuitton’s menswear show in Paris, a fitting analogy for the way in which the house’s designer Virgil Abloh, who passed away last month after a secret battle with cancer aged just 41, approached design. He was known for taking the traditional tropes of the house and turning them and distorting them into something new, unexpected and colourful, during his tenure from 2018 to this January.
As winter sunlight streamed through the windows into space – painted a sky blue shade – his team showed the last collection he designed, with Simón Bolívar’s Youth Orchestra of Venezuela playing Tyler The Creator’s See You Again and dancers cartwheeling and careering around the models.
Abloh was an arch disruptor; an African American man from the Midwest who worked across a multitude of disciplines and became the first black creative director at Louis Vuitton, the loftiest of Paris houses. That sense of delighting in the unexpected parlays into his collections, where he deconstructed classic suits, exploded riotous colour and exaggerated proportions across outerwear and employed childlike motifs in this most sophisticated of French grande dames.