THOMAS ADAMSON, AP fashion columnist
PARIS (AP) — He may have died last November, but Virgil Abloh survived Paris Fashion Week Thursday in a spectacular Louis Vuitton menswear show. A black band put on an incendiary performance at a surreal yellow brick installation inside the Louvre, while rapper Kendrick Lamar performed a lively ode to the American fashion star who was a Vuitton menswear designer from 2018 until his death.
Here are some highlights from the Spring/Summer 2023 shows taking place on Thursday in Paris.
“Long live Virgil… how many miles from here?” came Lamar’s live rap at a suffocatingly hot Vuitton show. The set was reminiscent of the spirit of the Wizard of Oz and the childish obsessions common to Abloh’s projects, as was the colorfully dressed marching band and dance troupe that appeared at the beginning and end of the show.
This spring/summer show was the first that Abloh did not design. Instead, it was conceived by Vuitton in his vein.
Omar Sy, Jessica Biel, Justin Timberlake, Joel Edgerton and Naomi Campbell showcased the enduring appeal of the designer’s heritage.
It’s an extraordinary feat for the studio to emulate the styles of a former designer – with originality.
So it was on Thursday, from whimsical zigzag shirt hemlines to 3D paper airplane appliqués on suits and otherworldly elongated silhouettes.
A finely tailored jacket with trompe l’oeil prints is one of the many touches of old-school luxury. Such moments in this collection even seemed to surpass Abloh’s own runway designs.
They have carefully maintained the line between the playful style associated with the house since 2018 and the exquisite luxury tailoring seen during the reign of predecessor Kim Jones.
The strength of the display was due to its many design feats. An example is the waist of a black double-breasted jacket that has been cinched to resemble a V on the side. Its very silhouette resembled the house’s monogram.
Design studio Louis Vuitton just broke the trend of too many chefs spoiling the broth.
DEATH FASHION IN 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 writhed, danced and seemingly wooed death for a spectacular Men’s Fashion Week show in Paris.
In stunning hues inspired by flowers and vases, models mingle with performers at the recently refurbished La Poste du Louvre for this unusual and sensual display of fashion designs through dance.
From a hidden ledge high above the runway in the courtyard, the dance troupe suddenly stood up in the middle of the show to choke on the audience. Wearing loose, pastel-colored pleated robes, the performers would then descend the stairs and then perform deadly jumps, falls, and somersaults. The performers were tossed into the air like rockets for the dancers to catch them across the courtyard. There was no safety net above the hard stone floor.
The performance was staged by Rashid Ouramdan of the National Theater of Chaillot with the participation of the Compagnie XY acrobat team.
The fashion itself was bland in comparison. The gentle curves of the neck and belly follow the shape of the vase with a pleasant weight that creates a dynamic silhouette. A pastel red pleated tunic was paired with a short jacket with chest inserts reminiscent of an Asian warrior. Elsewhere, a vibrant dandelion-colored waistcoat sported studded pockets that opened like an opening flower.
Color blocking was also a strong theme, with pastel purple contrasting with blush and raisins in one look and pastel yellow and navy blue in another. It was a strong runway comeback for Homme Plisse in Issey Miyake.
ANCIENT EGYPT RICK OWENS
American designer Rick Owens delved into the ancient world for inspiration after returning from a stay in Egypt and a visit to the Temple of Edfu on the Nile.
The philosopher Owens often said that his “personal concerns … seemed petty in the face of this kind of timelessness.” In recent seasons, he has commented on the impact of the pandemic on fashion and beyond – and has taken the lockdown as a time for soul-searching.
Owens has always had an aesthetic preference for ancient Egyptian clothing, with togas, drapes and high priestess styles adorning his catwalks. But at Thursday’s show, he took a very personal look at such silhouettes.
“I loved lying in the mud overlooking the Valley of the Kings,” he said.
Like the long stone carvings of an ancient temple, the silhouettes were lengthened by layering clothing to keep the belly low. The dark flared trousers were so long that the fabric scratched the stone steps as the models walked through Tokyo Palace. It created a funky surreal effect.
“Extreme shoulders” – gigantic and rounded – created an image of an Egyptian priest, sewn by an American fashion master from silk chiffon, crisp cotton and bright check.
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