Virgil Abloh can’t be understood without text – both in his artistic, fashion, and music works, and understanding ‘text’ as a broader definition beyond letters; he’s been working on a ‘dictionary’ to broaden the definitions of various terms and ideas collection after collection. For this Spring/Summer 2020, flowers are central, and he defines them as “A staple motif in fashion often relegated to the trivial or mundane. Or: a wonder of nature. A naturally occurring metaphor for diversity, as beautiful on a micro level as they are on a macro level. A living creature that blooms from a simple seed, crosses borders, and blossoms come rain or shine.”
These three different definitions also guide his latest collection. But let’s start from the beginning: Abloh is presenting his third collection at Louis Vuitton Men, and it’s been a year since he presented the first. In addition to the French house, he runs his own label, has recently inaugurated a massive exhibition at MCA Chicago titled Figures of Speech, and has even had the time to collaborate with Vitra on a limited-edition collection of products (lamps, chairs, bricks, etc.) presented during Art Basel week. With such a busy and overloaded life, Abloh seems to go back to basics to keep himself grounded. By finding inspiration and beauty in everyday life, in those small details we usually overlook, he can carry on his packed schedule.
As for the collection itself, it’s clear that flowers play the main role: beautiful embroideries of floral motifs adorn blazers, trenches, trousers, and shirts as well as bags. Digital prints of flowers – that sometimes are turned into abstract images – are all over a waterproof long coat or in breathy, long shirts, pleated trousers and hoodies. There is even a jumper composed of several different flowers made of crochet. And the icing on the cake: the harnesses – worn by the likes of Thimotée Chalamet on the red carpet – and inner brims of hats are also masterfully decorated with fresh flowers.
Flowers, flowers, flowers. It’s easy to remember Miranda Priestly’s quote ‘Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking’, in The Devil Wears Prada. But Abloh is far from being obvious. As his dictionary points out, flowers serve as a metaphor for diversity, especially wildflowers – they mix and match freely in nature and have always been considered ‘second-class’ flowers (if I can use the term without sounding too frivolous). And this message, although rapidly growing in the industry, is still groundbreaking for many.
The colour palette mixes soft hues of blue, green, yellow, grey, pink and lilac together with more vibrant tones like fuchsia as well as neutral tones like white, black or beige. And the pieces show Abloh’s direction towards a more tailored, elegant and refined look – single and double-breasted blazers, long trench coats, suits, or collared shirts. And there are technical pieces like pleated parkas or puffer jackets that show the technicality of Louis Vuitton’s atelier’s expertise. Overall, the Spring/Summer 2020 collection is simple but full of meaning, just like its main inspiration. Just like in everyday life, you have to stop and pay attention to details, as Virgil suggests. And that goes beyond fashion.