Who Can Replace Virgil Abloh For Louis Vuitton?
When Louis Vuitton appointed Virgil Abloh as its Artistic Director, we in the fashion industry knew this meant a seismic shift in the luxury fashion landscape. Abloh was a cultural titan, who faced heavy criticism during his tenure (on occasion rightly so), and sculpted his fashion universe at a relentless pace. He paved the way for luxury designers to feel comfortable appointing streetwear designers with no formal fashion education to the helms of storied fashion houses like Givenchy, Calvin Klein and Kenzo.
The question of who will or can replace the late designer as Louis Vuitton’s artistic director has been a heavily discussed topic since the passing of Virgil Abloh. As a creator, Abloh wore many hats–DJ, architect, marketing savant, and boundary-breaking designer–reinventing the menswear line at Louis Vuitton with his creative energy. Understanding that Abloh’s revolutionary work at Louis Vuitton would be a hard act to follow, the list of possible successors would be very specific and exclusive, but this wouldn’t stop the fashion media from speculating and trying to play ‘what would Bernard Arnault do?’
Although it’s impossible to fathom another designer being able to don all the things Virgil was to the LVMH group owned label, the question of who will step into the menswear role for the French luxury house still looms. So who are the possible personalities to take the throne at Louis Vuitton?
Grace Wales Bonner
Virgil was Louis Vuitton’s first Black creative director, so why not take it a step further by appointing its first female menswear creative director? And who better than Grace Wales Bonner? An International Menswear Designer award winner, Wales Bonner is not short of accolades to go alongside her multicultural and youthful designs. Mainly known for her take on tailored sportswear and infusing Afro-identities to Western ideas of luxury fashion, with her Wales Bonner imprint, Grace continues to move the needle as she addresses ideas of gender, race and identity through her works.
A prodigy of Virgil Abloh, the A-Cold-Wall* founder would be a great appointment for Louis Vuitton. A sort of student-to-master story arch, Samuel Ross would be the kind of new energy that Louis Vuitton would need to pick up where Virgil Aboh left off. A cerebral designer, Ross is part of the culture, and this shows through his forward-thinking partnerships with Dr. Martens, Converse, and, as of late, Beats by Dre. From the school of Kanye West and Virgil Aboh, Samuel Ross is a multi-hyphenate like his mentors, making him a great choice for a successor.
Kerby Jean Raymond
If there’s someone with the cultural flair akin to Virgil’s, it’s Pyer Moss’ Kerby Jean Raymond (Virgil was once called out for ‘referencing’ a yellow raincoat from Pyer Moss). Possibly the most natural choice to replace Abloh at Louis Vuitton, Jean-Raymond’s pedigree is top class. From his work with his Pyer Moss imprint, his collaboration with Reebok and his creative directorship at the same brand, Kerby has shown time and time again that he over-stands streetwear and luxury fashion like no other with sophisticated designs informed by the African American experience. An esteemed designer, Kerby is also a member of the CFDA (like the BFC but in America), giving him a stamp some of his contemporaries won’t have.
Remember the Moncler Genius project, first unveiled at Milan Fashion Week in 2019? The Italian luxury maker tossed aside the idea of having a single creative director and instead opted for a model that saw multiple creative directors take a hand at creating their own collection for the label. Although this may seem a bit out there, what if Louis Vuitton doesn’t just appoint one person to succeed Virgil but instead taps all the hottest designers in fashion to take a hand at creating a one-off collection with the storied luxury house. This most likely won’t happen, as stability is the order of the day for one of the most successful fashion houses, but it would be progressive and unlock a paradigm for Louis Vuitton.
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