Rapper Kanye West and his friend and muse Virgil Abloh cried in each other’s arms Thursday after the US designer made his Paris debut for Louis Vuitton.
The pair embraced after Abloh who worked hand in glove with West for more than 15 years as his creative partner — showed his first menswear collection for the world’s top luxury brand.Relations between the pair have been tested since Abloh was headhunted by Louis Vuitton in March, with the rapper saying it was “hurtful” to lose his erstwhile artistic director.
But in a touching scene as the show ended on Thursday, Abloh ran down the catwalk to hug West after taking his bow, with the two later wiping away tears.West has made no secret of his own ambitions to lead a major luxury brand as a designer himself.
Yet the rapper turned up with his wife Kim Kardashian to support Abloh’s first show in the formal gardens of the Palais Royal in the French capital.
It was the first time the reality television star and fashion icon has appeared in public in Paris since she was tied up and robbed in a luxury apartment there in 2016.
Significantly, she also wore a bright blue wrap coat with prominent pockets by Abloh that echoed several utilitarian pieces in his collection.
– Diversity in DNA –
Rihanna and rapper ASAP Rocky were also on the front row to applaud the American’s vision of luxury streetwear for the jetset.
And Abloh — whose parents were immigrants from Ghana — marked the changing of the guard with a show that stressed the global diversity of his vision.
He dressed his first 18 models — who were black — all in white before mixing the colour and ethnic palette into a picture of the planet.
Each guest at the show was given a diagram showing his models’ birthplaces and that of their parents.
In an Instagram post explaining the gesture, he told his 2.3 million followers that “essential to my show concept is a global view on diversity linked to the travel DNA of the brand” — which began making trunks and suitcases 154 years ago.
Abloh also gave guests the first issue of his “Dictionary of Terms”, a sometimes tongue-in-cheek A to Z manifesto where under K he wrote: “Kanye West. A mentor and friend to Virgil Abloh.”
Earlier this week he had described the rapper, who designs his own Yeezy range for Adidas, as “the architect of it all”.
Abloh is only the second black man to rise to the top of a major luxury brand. He did he so by studying engineering and architecture rather than fashion.
Hitting back at his critics, who dismiss the streetwear style he champions as a fad, he said, “Like some kids today I started the surreal mission without ‘fashion school’ but a blank T-shirt, a screen printed idea for it and a dream.”
“As a nod to that” he gave everyone at the show a “T-shirt I made (during) the early days @louisvuitton once I learned how to use the photocopier in the office,” he joked.
– Van Noten’s retro revamp –
In another self-deprecating observation in his dictionary, he defined irony as “the presence of Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton”.
The designer, however, did not stint on luxury silks and leathers that have been Vuitton’s trademark down the years.
Tellingly, he drew the line at bling, however, making a point of redefining jewellery in his dictionary. Instead of “all-that-glitters-is-gold”, he stressed that the jewellery in his spring-summer collection “appears in unrarefied metals denoting a contrasting celebration of non-precious materials”.
Elsewhere Thursday, Dries van Noten, one of the world’s most admired designers, proved it was business as usual with a summer show that demonstrated once again his genius for prints.His decision to sell the controlling stake in his label to the Spanish group Puig last week sparked much soul-searching about the death of the independent designer.
On the catwalk, however, his whole spectrum of beachy looks to suits was a feast for the eyes, especially a string of gorgeous shiny rain macs and shorts for summer showers that went from rich orange to red, blue, purple and green and back again.
Not for nothing is Van Noten called the “King of Prints”. He took a wavy 1970s orange wallpaper pattern that once might have adorned a thousand dim bedsits and gave it a glorious afterlife lapping across much of the collection, from double breasted suits to coat linings.