Whatever lessons Virgil Abloh left behind on earth, know that his creative team has found them.
At the Louvre forecourt, Louis Vuitton presented its spring 2023 menswear collection. To say it was a spectacle of epic proportions would be an understatement. It began with a film, a cinematic prelude of sorts called Strange Math. Then came a procession from the students that makeup The Marching 100, a marching band from the historically Black A&M University (FAMU) in Tallahassee, Florida. From his seat front row, Kendrick Lamar rapped four tracks from his newly released album Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers wearing a crown of thorns.
Models stepped out onto a sunflower yellow runway, one that curved and twisted like a child's train set. The set itself was enormous and flanked by giant red LV balls, establishing the concept of play. It was a theme that naturally rippled through the clothes. Hats, the kind you fashion out of newspaper as a kid, were folded like origami from soft leather. Paper planes engulfed one suit entirely, while another was covered in scissors. Candy-like beads were strung onto dangly belts and hat ties, all pointing to arts and crafts.
Then there were the subtler details, jagged shirt hems and jacket sleeves pointed to the handmade, and heavy layers consisting of gathered skirts, boxy tailoring and butcher's gloves conjured up images of rifling through the costume box to play dress-ups. The best thing was the collection's nod to Louis Vuitton's heritage codes and motifs, integrating the Damier pattern in jacquard suiting.
A kind of french romanticism permeated the collection. No doubt heightened by the show's location. Impressionist painting swathed the finals looks, with the thistle motif – a homage to the bouquets of Asnières – appearing on everything from enamel belt buckles to bomber jackets as crepe silk overlays. Innovation appeared in the form of static electricity fabrics, applied in techno coats and select outerwear, that would shrink to the body at contact with electricity.
Watching the show, it's impossible to not think of endings. The Louis Vuitton spring 2023 menswear collection is, above all, a finale. It's the first to have been completed solely by Abloh's team without any direction from the late designer. Which makes it all the more bittersweet watching them wave their final goodbyes to a period of much transformation and significance. We know a new creative director will be announced soon. But before that happens, let us marinate. Let us play.