There are no bigger shoes to fill than the ones that Virgil Abloh designed while directing Louis Vuitton to unforetold heights. The shockwaves of his sudden passing still reverberate through the luxury house's gilded walls.
Fitting that Louis Vuitton is still developing a series of tributes to its late artistic director. The "Virgil Was Here" show held last year in Miami was only the first in a series of Abloh homages that LV's planning for the rest of 2022.
Though Louis Vuitton intimated that SS22 would be Abloh's final proper runway collection (and Pre-Fall 2022 perhaps his last lookbook), the house asserts that FW22, dubbed "AN OCTOLOGY ACCORDING TO VIRGIL ABLOH," is actually the last showing of Abloh's work, incorporating elements from all eight of his prior shows.
Set amidst a whimsical set that includes a house's roof (complete with chimney), king-sized bed, and a banquet table that seated a live orchestra performing tunes from Abloh's repertoire — composed by Tyler, the Creator — the FW22 runway show was something old and something new, just like Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer 2022.
Models danced and strode in Abloh's oversized caps, buckled trench coats, signature warped tailoring, skirts, washed-out denim jeans, and his original sneaker designs, including the Tactic and Trainer.
Stadium jackets, crystal-embellished truckers, and lots of reworked Vuitton bags, from the classic Trunk to mini Duffles and backpacks, were all here. But, though the clothing was an apt demonstration of Abloh creative acumen, the point of the runway show wasn't merely to show off some luxury goods.
If that "Virgil Was Here" showing was an ode to the recently-passed Abloh, Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2022 was a memorialization of his ingenuity. Indeed, the presentation was a little more subdued than the earlier affair — the monochrome venue and orchestra reveal initially felt surprisingly somber — but hardly unsmiling.
For instance, models clasped floral bouquets but those arrangements were wrapped in faux newspaper, more like fish and chips than a wreath.
Abloh's clothing doesn't lend itself to unsmiling ceremony, anyways. How could anyone behold his tie-dyed fur coats or paisley-patterned gowns and not think "Fun!"
Still, witnessing the FW22 presentation does give raise to the eternal question: Who could possibly follow Abloh's in footsteps?
For now, that's a query worth ignoring.
The entire LV creative team again stepped out at the end of the presentation — just like in Miami, they helped complete Abloh's designs ahead of the show — hugging the models and each other as the entire venue erupted in applause.
Some teared up, others simply smiled. Smoke poured from the house's chimney.
The final procession of white-clad models fitted with angelic lace wings reiterated the motif: this wasn't about anyone other than Abloh, a selfless acknowledgment of the designer's immeasurable impact and his lasting legacy.