Paris Fashion Week: Louis Vuitton salutes Michael Jackson

Models present creations by designer Virgil Abloh as part of his Fall/Winter 2019-2020 collection show for fashion house Louis Vuitton during Men's Fashion Week in Paris, France, January 17, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

The black box construction branded ‘DIOR’ was so big it obscured the view of the Eiffel Tower.

At 2,840 square metres, the sheer scale of menswear designer Kim Jones’ pop-up venue could only mean one thing: that he was competing for show of the season on Friday at Paris Fashion Week.

A high-tech conveyor-belt catwalk allowed models to parade before a starry Dior Homme front row that included Kate Moss, Lily Allen and a tardy Robert Pattinson.

Louis Vuitton’s designer Virgil Abloh transported celebrity guests 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 to celebrate one of America’s most globally recognised and celebrated black performers.

Here are some highlights so far from autumn-winter shows at Paris Fashion Week.


This is what a luxury supermarket might look like.

At Dior Homme, a snaking, metre-wide conveyer belt began moving to thumping music as models in dark, shimmering and couture-infused looks filed by.

In the presentational style, Jones made a welcome ironic comment on the commercial nature of ready-to-wear. But this superlative display needed no gimmicks to please.

A romantic sash was slung over a double-breasted charcoal suit at the chest and hip in a feat of accomplished styling — and one that harkened to couture draping.

A contemporary version of 19th-century spats — banding across the ankles — and arm-length leather gloves added to the show’s romantic, almost swashbuckling, mood.

Jones added an edgy interpretation to the strict codes of Christian Dior, the designer who died in 1957, by translating his obsessions. Dior’s love for big cats became a white tiger fur T-shirt hybrid.

The late designer’s penchant for superstition became charm bracelets, and his initials a ‘CD’ fastening on a safety pin. Dior’s love of art became a sparkling print of a frowning Mona Lisa on a shirt, jacket and sweater.

The entire display maintained a brooding quality, thanks to the insistence on couture-style cashmeres, silk-satin and furs.


Model Naomi Campbell and actors Timothee Chalamet and Joel Edgerton seemed amazed to discover a reconstructed cityscape that evoked the King of Pop’s famed music videos, all inside the Tuileries Gardens.

A young, skinny actor resembling the late Jackson as a boy drew applause as he ran and danced across the impressive set of a poor New York neighbourhood.

No detail was spared.

Guests clutched their show invites that comprised a single bejewelled white glove, as their eyes were led past a Chinese business store, New York street signs, sidewalks littered with dead leaves, and a barber shop ending at a saxophonist playing on the street.

Campbell nodded to the beat of the soundtrack — an infectious checklist of Jackson’s greatest hits that had some humming well after the show had ended.

“It’s Michael Jackson. My hero,” she exclaimed.

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 aluminium 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 jewelled 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.

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