Paris Fashion Week: Virgil Abloh, Louis Vuitton, and the second coming of the suit
The suit – that is to say, the duo of a tailored blazer and matching trousers– was considered stone-dead a year ago.
Despite the fact that millions of men across the world still wore them to work, or to weddings, or to court appearances, or to any event that called for something smarter than jeans and a shirt, the fashion industry was adamant that the traditional suit was kaput.
Dress codes had been demolished, trainers were ubiquitous and rather than a pretty thing you put around your neck, the tie became a symbol of stuffy corporate oppression.
But would you believe it, the suit is back. In fact, vast swathes of collections at this month’s round of shows featured blazers and matching trousers. And there were ties, too. And an inordinately large amount of pale blue shirts. But perhaps it was Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton - presented inside a pop-up warehouse in the Jardins des Tuileries painted with a blue-sky motif – that served as the final rubber stamp on a triumphant resurrection. Abloh, after all, is a high priest of streetwear, and it was that which served as the harbinger of demise for Savile Row style.
“Streetwear is a label freely adopted and rejected by Virgil Abloh,” explained the notes that accompanied the A/W’20 show. “Through the contemporary breakdown of dress codes, the popular idea of streetwear calls for a redefinition of the term itself. Today, streetwear characterises the clothes we actually wear and the way we wear them.
For the Louis Vuitton Fall-Winter 2020 collection, men’s artistic director Virgil Abloh studies the evolving anthropology of the suit and the reprogramming of traditional dress codes. Tailoring and the tapered silhouette – the firm symbols of convention, trade and success – depart their corporate comfort zone: twisted and turned, the dress codes of an old world are neutralised, re-appropriated and embraced for a progressive joie de vivre. Don’t let your day job define you.”
The overall vibe, to me, was quite Sixties. Slim trousers cut short enough to show off those pointy boots, three-button Mod blazers, duffel coats, shaggy jumpers and swatches of faux fur here and there. I didn’t expect suits, and I certainly didn’t expect Sixties suits, but as usual, the fashion gods have conferred (see Dior, A-Cold-Wall*, Ermenegildo Zegna and Off-White) and sartorial elegance is back.
*whispers ‘streetwear is dead’*