Get To Know Louis Vuitton's New Artistic Director

Photo: Francois Durand/Getty Images
Louis Vuitton, one of the most established fashion houses in the industry, today announced that Virgil Abloh, a designer with no formal training, will be its new artistic director of menswear. Abloh, 37, will be the French house's first African-American artistic director, and succeeds Kim Jones, who announced his departure in January. “I find the heritage and creative integrity of the house are key inspirations," Abloh said of his move in a statement, "and will look to reference them both while drawing parallels to modern times.”
Founder of Milan-based streetwear brand Off-White, Abloh has garnered a youth-led following most heritage brands could only dream of – his personal Instagram account has 1.6 million followers, while Off-White has 3.1 million. Starting out as Kanye West's creative consultant, Abloh interned at Fendi before founding his own label in 2013.
Since then he's been nominated for the LVMH prize, won Urban Luxury Brand at 2017's Fashion Awards, collaborated with everyone from Ikea to Levi's and Nike, and become just about the most sought-after brand out there. Abloh's appointment at Louis Vuitton confirms that streetwear and athleisure are going nowhere fast, and we can expect the same much-hyped pieces that we saw from his predecessor Jones, a close friend of Abloh's whose Vuitton collaboration with Supreme was the sellout drop of last year.
Virgil Abloh's first collection for Louis Vuitton menswear will be shown in Paris in June; until then, we're revisiting the prolific designer's influence on our wardrobes. Click through to find all the trends Abloh has had a hand in shaping over the last several years.
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Photo: Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/WireImage/Getty Images
Princess Diana

If your wardrobe is looking more and more like that of the people's princess – pearls, polka dots and cycling shorts – then look to Off-White's SS18 collection, which paid homage to the legendary figure just weeks before the 20th anniversary of her death.

Checked blazers, monochrome polka dot blouses, pussybow detailing, and pink skirt suits may sound like a dream lineup for spring, but Princess Di was working these looks way back when. Abloh brought her aesthetic to a whole new audience.
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Photo: Melodie Jeng/Getty Images

Alongside Vetements, Abloh is responsible for the hoodie – once reserved for 11-year-old-boys and the gym – becoming acceptable at work, at dinner, and at fashion week. Launching both round-the-corner-queue-causing hits and more affordable $170 sweatshirts, Off-White gave streetwear-infused hoodies a luxe touch, winning the approval of the Hadid sisters, who teamed them with silk slip dresses, and Rihanna, who paired hers with denim and slouch boots.
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Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for adidas

It would be unfair to attribute Yeezy's entire earth- and flesh-toned aesthetic to Virgil, but he certainly had an influential hand in our perception of Kanye's brand. Just as the industry doubted Victoria Beckham's entry into high fashion before accepting her as a fashion month staple, naysayers mocked the musician when he diversified into clothes.

But that soon changed, thanks to Abloh's 13-year input as Kanye's creative director, art-directing look books and limited edition tees, curating the show music and casting models. “His life is a living, breathing art project,” Abloh said of his relationship to Kanye. “My job is to know how he thinks and to put forward the right tools and options that inform the whole scenario.” Without Abloh, we wouldn't have Yeezy and the industry-wide changes it inspired.
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Photo: Sunglasses Hut X Off/White
The fashion collaboration

Sure, it's been going on for decades, but Off-White embraced the fashion collaboration in a way the industry had never seen before, inspiring other brands to turn their hands to high-low alliances, too.

With Off-White x IKEA in the making (a release date is still TBC), bringing rugs and a yellow take on the Frakta bag to our homeware, it seems that no brand is off limits for Abloh. Sunglasses Hut? Off-White's line of sunnies for the high street staple launches today. Moncler Outerwear, Vans, Nike, Umbro, SSense and Levi's are just some of the other brands Abloh has collaborated with. Phew.
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Photo: Peter White/Getty Images
Off-kilter irony

Take a look at Off-White's Instagram accounts and you'll notice a heavy dose of irony via quotation marks. It's something the designer puts into everything he does, from his SS18 show invite reading "Runway Show Invite" to a pair of Off-White x Nike shoelaces labelled – you guessed it – "Shoelaces".

Abloh reworked the Nike tick on tees with a handwritten copy and the word 'logo' written above it, reflecting a wider trend of counterfeit fashion – just look at Gucci's 'Guccy' sweater. Abloh's penchant for sleight of hand and tongue-in-cheek detail is very much reflective of Off-White's ethos. As the designer said in an interview: "My brand started in the streets and the alleys of the internet."

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