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Vuitton’s Abloh celebrates Michael Jackson in Paris menswear

Louis Vuitton’s designer Virgil Abloh transported celebrity guests at Paris Fashion Week to the graffitied streets of New York in a dramatic menswear ode to Michael Jackson. Abloh, the first African-American to head a major European fashion house, used his unique platform Thursday to celebrate one of America’s most globally recognized and celebrated black performers. Here are some highlights of Thursday’s fall-winter shows.

Vuitton’s Abloh revisits Jackson

It was the flamboyance of Michael Jackson as seen through the classical prism of Louis Vuitton. The silhouettes of some of the late star’s most eye-popping looks were taken by Abloh and revisited in a slightly more pared-down style. A military jacket and large sash – that might have come across overly showy – were designed in a tasteful pearl-gray monochrome cashmere. Elsewhere, a giant cropped jacket with stiff padded lapels was saved from excess with soft charcoal flannel twill. The signature layering of the singer, who died in 2009, was ubiquitous in the 64-piece parade that went from the subtle to the not so subtle toward the end.
An overlaid silver parka coat in aluminum foil leather and a silver safety vest were among the most literal of the Jackson odes and recalled some of his most spectacular concert performances, as did the models who wore jeweled gloves. Later in the show, Abloh made a series of prints based on a cartoon in Jackson’s 1978 film “The Wiz” that became a cult classic among black audiences.

Abloh called his hero, Jackson, “the universal symbol of unity on the planet.” Though touching, the collection could have perhaps done without the scarf shirts fashioned out of global flags that came across as a tad busy and somewhat obvious.

Rick Owens blows a kiss

A brooding and saucy mood overtook lauded American designer Rick Owens in a 70s-style collection Thursday. The show was entitled “Larry,” after US designer Larry LeGaspi, whose silver and black space looks were worn by rock groups such as Kiss. The fall-winter show was very much an homage to the bombastic styles of LeGaspi, about whom Owens has written a book. Tan, sienna, deep vermillion and lashings of black in the clothes were highlighted by sensually dappled lighting. Excess was simply everywhere.
Enveloping retro shades, peaked shoulders, oversized sleeves, flares and David Bowie-style tight waists set the time-dial very much to the era of Glam Rock. As if that weren’t enough, Owens pushed the envelope further with painted white faces and inset leather appliques that resembled women’s genitals. They contrasted purity with provocation. LeGaspi “helped set a lot of kids like me free with his mix of art-deco sexual ambiguity,” Owens said.

Issey Miyake brings the wind

Models present creations by Issey Miyake Men during the men’s Fall/Winter 2019/2020 collection fashion show.

The Franco-Japanese house of Issey Miyake put on a collection in homage to the wind. In the fall-winter silhouettes, it was not the wind of an angry storm at work, but more a gentle breeze that served to curve and soften the clothes’ shapes. The result was a low-key affair by designer Yoshiyuki Miyamae. A welcome sharpness did appear in the collection via its print detailing, but its power was diluted by the rounded shapes. For instance, some jagged yellow diagonal motifs evoked the strong movement of wind – but the looseness of the suits and coats on which they appeared lessened the effect.

The prints were conceived by an Asian wax resistant dyeing technique called batik that the house frequently uses. Issey Miyake is one house that cannot be faulted for its use of cutting-edge fashion-making methods. Elsewhere, another Asian technique, ikat – a sort of tie-dye – was employed to produce the collection’s strongest pieces. A silk-wool series sported beautifully defused white horizontal bands across icy blue-gray pants and shimmering coats.

Dior declares men’s fashion future to be suited and booted
Dior set out to redefine 21th-century tailoring on Friday in a show which summed up a Paris men’s fashion week in which the suit has made a surprising comeback. British-born designer Kim Jones drew inspiration from the French capital’s heroic statuary to suggest that there was no better armor for the modern man than well-cut clothes. His spectacular show in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower had models standing still like statues on a moving conveyer belt catwalk.

The mesmerizing effect made it look as if they were gliding or skateboarding to a techno disco beat. Jones, in only his second Paris show for the mythic French label since leaving Louis Vuitton, sent out a sleek, dark-hued riposte to the oversized trend that has dominated men’s fashion for several seasons.

Big on blacks, greys and burnished silky browns, his suits and trousers were cut close to the body, with some given added panache with long scarfs worn like the sashes so beloved of 17th-century cavaliers. Stylised utility vests worn over suits like bulletproof jackets gave some of his models the air of postmodern hussars.

“For me the suit and the tailored jacket are the key things which say Dior,” Jones told AFP. “It is elegance, tailoring and couture. “We have made the black suits cooler and a bit more fashion with new boots… and the scarves are inspired by a dress by Christian Dior (the label’s founder) from 1952,” he said.

Streetwise luxury

Leather trousers and mink and plasticized silk bomber jackets gave the whole thing a sheen of unapologetic streetwise luxury. “We are taking utilitarian things and making them in fine fabrics,” the designer added. Jones also dotted his winter Dior Homme line with leopard print in another nod to the legacy of the house’s founder, the feline, feminine feel softening the collection’s hard edges.

But artworks commissioned from the cult Los Angeles punk artist Raymond Pettibon were the collection’s main print motifs, principally his pouty, Lauren Bacall-esque rendering of the “Mona Lisa”. Despite their punk provenance, Jones called the images “quite romantic”. And like the dog-loving Dior he also referenced his own Pomeranian pooch, Cookie, in his redesign of the label’s classic saddlebags.

Dior had moved its show from Saturday to Friday to avoid the weekly “yellow vests” protests which have plagued the French capital most weekends for nearly two months. The anti-government demonstrations often turn violent and Dior’s flagship shop on the Champs Elysees was looted after a rally in November. Other protesters scrawled “The people want (to wear) Dior” on its nearby headquarters. Several other luxury brands have been targeted by the “yellow vests” activists, with boarded-up boutiques regularly scrawled with graffiti denouncing the rich.-AP/AFP agencies

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