Understated excellence unfolded in Paris today as Kendrick Lamar and Louis Vuitton unveiled the brand’s Men’s Spring-Summer 2023 collection. The star-studded affair was a celebration of the late great Virgil Abloh, continuing his legacy by reminding the world that his enigmatic personality and eye for detail will continue to ooze over every LV collection. What could have been a rather morbid memorial with a Virgil-shaped whole at its centre of it, quickly transformed into an all-out celebration of black excellence and expression as the newly assembled Louis Vuitton Marching Band transformed a rather sleepy corner of Paris into the epicentre of the global fashion world’s gaze.
Proceedings began with an all-American homage to the colourways of varsity jackets as a foggy-lensed film introducing the athletic aesthetic followed the lead model and his marching band from a rooftop overlooking the city into space via an all-gold spaceship before landing at the edge of the runway below. The rather quirky Baz Luhrmann-esque introduction quickly juxtaposed an explosion of colour and character as a platoon of rival marching bands assembled along the sunflower yellow runway. Each band was bejeweled in bespoke band uniforms drawing on the rich national colours of African countries, bouncing between royal purples, burnt orange and forest green garb with Kenzo-esque detailing of fictional animals.
The entire show was a break away from the traditional austere audience/runway relationship, instead, injecting energy through colour and dance that felt like you were watching an American football game. That was until the first model took to the runway and a fog of awe and anticipation descended across a sea of muted pastel purple suits, marking the beginnings of the kaleidoscope of colour that was about to unfold. Double-breasted 12 button suits layered atop cut-away shaped shirt sleeves and oversized chequered trench coats, whilst looking unbearably hot in the summer heat, made for a civilized start to the collection.
Whilst LV has never been a brand to be boxed into one aesthetic, repeated references to 1920s salon-style emerged in the form of tightly beaded headpieces and contrasting military pilot hats and cropped blazers. With so much detail dancing down the runway, spectators barely noticed as Kendrick Lamar’s voice echoed out a brief but repetitive “How many miles away Virgil” – an elegant nod to the fact that Virgil’s presence could clearly be felt by all in attendance.
As purple turned to light blue and suit blazers turned to acid wash denim, the camera panned down to reveal Kendrick Lemar sitting cool, calm and collected in the front row while spitting the lyrics to ‘Savior’. Mr Morale never once stood to steal the spotlight, instead, he watched like the rest of us whilst performing his latest album for the first time on a global stage. Decked in a diamond-encrusted crown of thorns, a timeless reference to the cover of Mr Morale & The Big Steppers, and a bespoke grey cropped double-breasted suit from this year’s collection. The only way Kendrick could have looked cooler is if Naomi Campbell was sat next to him – oh wait she was!
As quick as Kendrick moved onto a new track, a new colour of the rainbow and seemingly a new aesthetic emerged onto the runway. Baggy jeans drooped over crisp white trainers formed the bedrock of the blue selection whilst a more Berlin post-apocalyptic colour template took over as the colours shifted from blues into greens and onto yellows. Neon green holdalls paired with a-symmetrical cut biker jackets and faux fur bucket hats changed the overall tone from an afternoon masquerade ball to an evening rave in the Emerald City. The star of the show swiftly emerged as the show reached its curtain call – a stunning floral lace encrusted skirt and oversized blazer combo that could have been plucked straight from a Monet painting.
Overall, the Louis Vuitton Spring-Summer 2023 show was both a perfect homage to the brand’s past, including its visionary leader, as well as an energetic unveiling of the house’s future. Ultimately, two forward-thinking icons of different industries united to combine what may go down as the two greatest creative collections of the year: Mr Morale & The Big Steppers and the LV SS 2023 collection.
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