As passionate as he was about the sensation of shows, he studiously immersed himself in what he called the “normalcy” of pre-collections:
“Essential garments of a wardrobe, 7.0’d.” Through these clothes, he explained he wanted to “celebrate the idea of commercialism rather than deny it the way fashion tends to.” Coining the terms “trendless” and “lifewear”, Virgil Abloh used his intermediary lines to investigate what shapes a man’s wardrobe. Rather than a show, he chose his first pre-collection to introduce the ‘boyhood ideology’ that would go on to underpin his work at Louis Vuitton. “What makes menswear? Boys do. I believe that building blocks stacked upon each other through our lives form the narrative of what defines menswear,” he said at the time. “My work today bears evidence of everything that happened to me in my past: how I was brought up, educated, and how I evolved.”
For Louis Vuitton Pre-Fall 2022 – completed and photographed before his passing on 28 November 2021 – Virgil Abloh exercises this philosophy in a collection core to the mindset of a new generation. Devoid of conventional dress codes, genres of clothing traditionally labelled as ‘formalwear’, ‘workwear’, or ‘streetwear’ cross-pollinate in a wardrobe vision for the future – founded in true generational dress sense. Suiting interprets grown-up codes through relaxed cuts and light materials. The idea of a three-piece suit takes new shapes: wrap skirts replace the waistcoat, blazers trade place with utility jackets, and tapered trousers turn into flares. Denim suits break with tradition. Karakoram – the zig-zag pattern named from the mountain range – manifests as needle-punch, in embossment, and in tonal jacquards, as well as a satin souvenir bomber. Dégradé adds teenage spirit to knitwear, and to stripes in suiting evoking those which used to line the Maison’s trunks.
A summer-themed segment of the collection focuses on the elevation of sportswear. Switching expected codes, tracksuits appear in tailoring fabrics – and one in leather – while a workwear suit is adorned with vegan leather pockets, and dress shirts transform into track shirts with pin-hook detailing. Bringing graphics into the professional wardrobe, the Damier pattern of a jacquard suit fades out into tiny fragments revealing miniature LV logos, dégradé landscapes emerge from denim, and grid patterns take form through embroidery.
Created by the artist Ghusto Leon, graffiti imagery – the timeless symbol of youthful irreverence – is elevated into fil-coupé, jacquard, embroidery, and likewise appears on veils. Hats and caps native to beekeeping play with ideas of professions and definitions, a key discourse in the work of Virgil Abloh, who often reminded his audiences: “Don’t let your day job define you.”
Finally, the rave motif of Fall-Winter 2022 evolves in shorts-suits with faded paisley and monogram patterns.
Shoes appear in a wealth of colours expressed through loafers in patinaed leather and driving shoes with deconstructed rubber soles. Sacchetos in suede are adorned with monogram friezes and metal straps, while lightweight slides are given the puffy treatment. The LV Runner Tatic sneaker arrives in mesh, and as a mule covered in white wavy leather. Bags interpret the graphics and textures of the collection: the Damier pattern is blown up to chessboard dimensions on a backpack, while the Keepall is patchworked from patterns, colours and monogram elements, with large stitched LV logos – a detail iterated on contrast-tone cylinder bags and wallets.
“If you made it this far, thank you for your time.” –Virgil.