The spirit of Virgil Abloh lives on at Louis Vuitton in Paris

PARIS (AP) — He may have died last November, but Virgil Abloh survived Paris Fashion Week Thursday in a spectacular high-energy show for Louis Vuitton menswear. A black marching band gave a rousing performance on a surreal yellow brick road installation inside the Louvre, while rapper Kendrick Lamar performed a live ode to the American fashion star who was the clothing designer for Vuitton men from 2018 until his death.

Here are some highlights from the spring-summer 2023 shows on Thursday in Paris.

Abloh’s Marching Band

“Long live Virgil… How many kilometers away?” went Lamar’s live rap to Vuitton’s sultry spectacle. The set of yellow roads that snaked around the Louvre’s oldest courtyard recalled the spirit of the “Wizard of Oz” and the childhood obsessions common to Abloh’s designs – as did a marching band and a dance troupe in colorful clothing, including several members of the Florida A&M University band, who appeared loudly at the start and end of the show.

This spring-summer parade was the first presented since Abloh’s death that he had not designed (a posthumous precedent was based on his own designs). On Thursday, it was more of a collection entirely designed by the Vuitton studio in his mind. This rare continuation at Vuitton of the aesthetic of a former designer is a strong sign of the level of influence that the man was able to draw from.

Stars such as Omar Sy, Jessica Biel, Justin Timberlake, Joel Edgerton and Naomi Campbell have also testified to the appeal of his legacy.

THE VUITTON STUDIO SHOW

It’s a remarkable feat for a studio to emulate the styles of a former designer – with originality.

Such was the case at Thursday’s exhibition: from shirt hems cut in original ways in zigzag patterns, to appliques of 3D paper planes on suits and elongated silhouettes from another world.

A finely tailored jacket with trompe l’oeil prints provided one of many touches of old-fashioned luxury. Moments like this in this collection seemed to surpass even Abloh’s own runway designs.

They walked a careful line between the playful styles associated with the house since 2018 and the refined luxury tailoring seen under predecessor Kim Jones.

The screen’s strength was due to its many design prowess. An example was the size of a black double-breasted jacket that had been pulled up to look like a V on the side. Its very silhouette evoked the monogram of the house.

Louis Vuitton’s design studio has just bucked the trend of too many cooks spoiling the broth.

DEATH DEFYING FASHION AT HOMME PLISSE ISSEY MIYAKE

Blurring the line between fashion and performance, the Japanese house of Issey Miyake for Homme Plisse used a troupe of acrobats who twisted, danced and appeared to court death for a spectacular Paris Fashion Week men’s show.

In vibrant hues inspired by flowers and vases, models mingled with artists inside the newly renovated La Poste du Louvre for this quirky and sensitive showcase of fashion creations through dance.

From a hidden ledge above the courtyard track, a dance troupe suddenly rose up mid-show to gasps from the audience. In pastel-coloured, loose-fitting pleated clothing, the performers then descended ladders, before performing death-defying leaps, drops and falls. Performers were launched through the air like missiles, only to be grabbed by dancers across the yard. There was no safety net above the hard stone floor.

The show was directed by Rachid Ouramdane of the Théâtre National de Chaillot, with a collective of acrobats, Compagnie XY.

Fashion itself was soft in comparison. Gradual curves at the neck and belly mimicked the shapes of vases with a nice weight that produced a dynamic silhouette. A pleated tunic in pastel red was paired with a cropped jacket, with chest panels that resembled an Asian warrior. Elsewhere, a bright dandelion waistcoat featured studded pockets that fanned out like a flower opening.

Color blocking was also a strong theme – with pastel purple contrasting with blush and grape black on one look, and pastel yellow and midnight blue on another. It was a strong comeback on the catwalks for Homme Plisse at Issey Miyake.

RICK OWENS’ ANCIENT EGYPT

American designer Rick Owens draws his inspiration from the ancient world, returning from a stay in Egypt and a visit to the temple of Edfu on the Nile.

Often a philosopher, Owens said his “personal preoccupations … felt petty about this kind of timelessness”. In recent seasons he has commented on the impact of the pandemic on fashion and beyond – and embraced the lockdown as a moment of introspection.

Owens has always had an aesthetic inspired by ancient Egyptian clothing, with togas, drapes and high priestess styles gracing her catwalks. But on Thursday’s show, he turned the dial for a very personal take on these silhouettes.

“Lying down in the dirt with the Valley of the Kings within sight was a prospect I loved,” he said.

Like the long stone sculptures of the ancient temple, the figures were elongated by layering clothes to make the belly fall low. The dark flared pants were so long that the fabric brushed the stone steps as the models descended the hall of the Palais de Tokyo. It created a funky surreal effect.

The “extreme shoulders” – giant and rounded – created that Egyptian priest vibe, adapted by the American fashion master in chiffon, crisp cotton and garish plaid.

AM I

French designer Alexandre Mattiussi continued his penchant for using high-profile French actresses as role models on Thursday night’s co-ed show, which riffed on the 80s.

This spring season, the celebrity shine came from “Amelie” and “The Da Vinci Code” star Audrey Tautou, who opened the proceedings in a cool oversized ecru trench coat and warm cropped white jeans.

The rest of the show was defined by AMI’s usual fare of sellable looks, like in oversized ’80s suit jackets and knee-length stripper boots.

Checks – argyle, gingham tartan style – mixed with stripes – Breton, pin and sporty – to produce a slight twist on Mattiussi’s bread and butter styles.

While the plus size models were a welcome addition to the Paris catwalk and added a sense of inclusiveness.

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