Today is World Refugee Day and it ruminated on this critic’s mind. In central Paris, at the Louis Vuitton show, looking around at the beau monde that came from all corners of the world to the city’s Place Dauphine, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of them are refugees; are the sons and daughters of refugees; know a refugee; are trying to help a refugee. The VIP list started with the daughter of a refugee–Gigi Hadid attended. Her father, Mohammed Hadid, fled Palestine as a young boy. Other guests included Frank Ocean, Lewis Hamilton, Ben Harper, Maluma, War Chieff, Skepta, Shuhei Nomura, and Nick Chou.
Rather than build a set for today’s show, designer Virgil Abloh invited guests to join him in a triangular square on Ile de la Cité for a celebration of Parisian life, crepe station, cafés and all. Around the corner, lies the broken but not beyond repair Notre-Dame. Work to rebuild the cathedral has begun this month, with LVMH having pledged to contribute 200 million Euros to its restoration.
The clothes, which revealed themselves in a rainbow of pastel hues, seemed hopeful. They also looked comfortable. Roomy and casual, they hinted at travel and nomadism. Eclectic mashups of floral prints were a main theme. But the blooms also appeared as delicate embroidery on jackets and mesh. “Picture a garden filled with just one type of flower, a sunrise without sunshine, or a skyline suddenly missing its age-old spire. Familiarity can program the mind to take the most epic things for granted,” he wrote in the show notes. Abloh intended for the flowers to take heroic center stage at the show, a bouquet representing our innate diversity. Stay curious–and grateful, Abloh seemed to say.
Don’t look for a line-up of three-piece suits here. These clothes celebrate a boyish charm with some looks literal high-end sweatsuits to be worn for a jump around the inflatable bouncy castle in the square. If only this spirit of happy insouciance could last longer than a show and a season. Negativity, fear, and anxiety be gone. Abloh’s Louis Vuitton man is packing a nubuck calf leather overcoat, LV trail runners, and a straw hat along with his garden of Eden into an oversized monogram bag for a weekend sleepover at a best friend’s house. And if it’s one of the models cast in the show, it could be anywhere in the world from Australia to Senegal. The new boys’ club is open to all.