Louis Vuitton (and, consequently, luxury fashion) is ushering in a new era under Virgil Abloh's tutelage. Responsible for the most diverse menswear runway shows that the Maison has ever staged, Abloh is now driving home his message of inclusivity through his first campaign for the French fashion house.
Steering clear of your typical fashion campaign subject matter, Louis Vuitton's Men's Spring/Summer 2019 campaign explores the question of what makes a man. "I wanted to make something that is universal and human at the core," shared Abloh. "Inclusive and dense, something that has gravity." His answer is a campaign that chronicles the different stages of a man's life in 3 parts, which will be revealed respectively in January, February and March.
The first part, Infancy, Childhood and Adolescence, is shot by Inez & Vinoodh and features a cast of young boys (including a three-year-old toddler) amidst poppies and rainbow motifs — a nod to the collection's inspiration, The Wizard of Oz.
Abloh pays homage to French artist Gustave Courbet for the second part, The Painter's Studio, by recreating Courbet's painting of the same name. Having famously declared that he is not a designer, Abloh himself takes centre stage as the artist in the image shot by Mohamed Bourouissa. He's surrounded by his circle of friends, team mates and models, including his show stylist Christine Centenera, artist Lucien Smith and musicians Steve Lacy and Syd Tha Kyd.
The campaign is concluded with School Teens by Raimond Wouda, which depicts students clad in the monochromatic T-shirts recalling the ones given out at Abloh's debut Louis Vuitton show in Paris. The photos are a contemporary take on the group portraits of Dutch Golden Age painting, meant to represent a teenager's "desire to belong, contrasted by the need for individuality."
With his debut Louis Vuitton campaign, Abloh offers up a fresh perspective of what a fashion campaign can represent. He has chosen to emphasize the values — not the clothes — of his first collection, casting forth the images into artistic territory. (It's no coincidence that two parts of the campaign were shot by artists instead of fashion photographers.)
It also opens up a whole new conversation on luxury fashion: what is it? Who is it for? What will it look like in future? "The future of fashion isn't going to be fashion," said Abloh in an interview last year. If that's true, this campaign may very well be Abloh's first mark as a fashion oracle.