House in the clouds

Virgil Abloh’s final Louis Vuitton collection was a beautiful reminder to always dream big
By Bailey Slater | Fashion | 21 January 2022

Virgil Forever,” buzzed the chatroom that preceded the late designer’s final offering for Louis Vuitton menswear. It’s a bittersweet feeling all-around, the end of a journey that touched thousands and had only just begun. But the show must always go on, and so FW22 formed a graphic consolidation of Abloh’s brilliant eight-season reign at the French fashion house. 

For his final act – titled Louis Dreamhouse – guests were welcomed into a deconstructed subconscious lifted straight from the designer’s psyche, and painted in rapturous sky blue. Surreal in format, it played host to a live performance by the Chineke! Orchestra (playing a composition by Tyler, the Creator who sat front row), interactive bedroom and even a whimsically submerged house; its pointed red-roof and smoke-shedding chimney piercing the clouds below.

Descending from The Truman Show-esque steps in the sky (a nod to Abloh’s FW20 show), athletic figures kicked off the affair by imitating a viral performance of Yoann Bourgeois’ The Mechanics of History, bounding up and over a never-ending staircase they have no hope of ascending as pairings of nip-waisted formalwear and grey denim emerged from the flipside. Bug-eyed masks, sturdy-yet-engorged snapbacks, silky suits, sequinned trousers and patchworked sportswear in quick succession, motifs of an explosive career threaded together with Abloh’s penchant for the theatrical. 

Colour seeped out of every seam, warped trunk and furry checkerboard holdall while a series of looks recreated Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico’s work, The Melancholy of Departure. According to Abloh, it summed up “the principle that ‘old’ ideas should be invigorated with value and presented alongside the ‘new,’ because both are equal in worth.”

The show came to a close with a series of male bridalwear looks. These ethereal bride-grooms floated across the catwalk donning abstract, angel-like wings crafted in delicate lace and trailing white veils – the poignant imagery speaks for itself – before Abloh’s team took a lap of honour inside the dream Abloh had created. In the shownotes, the designer described this presentation as “a spark of imagination that turns into an eternal flame” – for his is a legacy that will burn forever.

GALLERYCatwalk images from Louis Vuitton FW22