Virgil Abloh, the founder of the haute street wear label Off-White and a longtime creative director for Kanye West, will be the next artistic director of men’s wear at Louis Vuitton, one of the oldest and most powerful European houses in the luxury business.
He becomes Louis Vuitton’s first African-American artistic director, and one of the few black designers at the top of a French heritage house. Olivier Rousteing is the creative director of Balmain, and Ozwald Boateng, from Britain, was the designer for Givenchy men’s wear from 2003 to 2007.
In an interview with The New York Times, Abloh said he felt “elated” by the appointment. “This opportunity to think through what the next chapter of design and luxury will mean at a brand that represents the pinnacle of luxury was always a goal in my wildest dreams. And to show a younger generation that there is no one way anyone in this kind of position has to look is a fantastically modern spirit in which to start.”
“Virgil is one of the few designers who truly marries street culture with high fashion – and the first black designer to be given such a position in the gilded halls of LVMH. His appointment is a step in the right direction for diversity, as well as a particularly exciting creative moment for the industry,” British Vogue‘s Editor-in-chief, Edward Enninful, commented on the move.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that what Abloh has achieved over the past few years has shifted the fashion conversation: now, more than ever, established houses are aware of the power of youth, that it’s not enough to depend on their luxury heritage for cultural cachet (although Abloh himself collects Birkin bags; he likes the fact that they’re “tied to a historical perspective, and the quality that goes into them is crazy”). He has abolished the industry’s traditional barriers to entry, paved the way for a new generation of young designers, and – on Instagram at least – made it look almost easy.
Virgil will be replacing Kim Jones who left Louis Vuitton in January who also achieved a lot through his famous collaboration of Supreme and Louis Vuitton and was recently named the mens wear designer for Christian Dior. I am excited to see what he will deliver in June for Louis Vuittons upcoming Paris Mens Fashion Week.