With inspiration drawn from global superstar Michael Jackson, Louis Vuitton Artistic Director Virgil Abloh presented his second menswear collection on January 17 in Paris; This latest collection received the highest reviews from critics and industry insiders.
The collection was staged in a darkened tent set on a Manhattan street corner at night, resembling the set of the infamous “Billie Jean” video; Many of Jackson’s top hits played throughout the show as well. The King of Pop’s influence was seen further through the diamond-encrusted white gloves used as invitations and top collection pieces that were worn throughout the show.
Pieces debuted during the show include numerous sparkling sequin encrusted jackets, which reference many of Jackson’s over-the-top costumes and a red jacket resembling the one seen in the iconic “Thriller” video. Also featured in the collection is a t-shirt with a printed image of rhinestone loafers pointed toward the ground, mimicking one of Jackson’s famous dance moves.
Eight days after Abloh’s menswear show, the “Leaving Neverland” documentary debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, causing uproar among the public and causing many people to question their support for Jackson. The four-hour HBO documentary follows two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who detail their alleged abuse by Michael Jackson and how it has affected their families.
“I am aware that in light of this documentary the show has caused emotional reactions. I strictly condemn any form of child abuse, violence or infringement against any human rights,” Abloh told WWD exclusively when speaking of his collection.
Louis Vuitton stressed that they were unaware of the documentary at the time of the menswear show.
CEO Michael Burke stated, “We find the allegations in the documentary deeply troubling and disturbing. Child safety and welfare is of utmost importance to Louis Vuitton. We are fully committed to advocating this cause.”
The controversy has continued to leave the companies, radio stations and the general public wondering how to deal with relationships to Jackson. While Abloh’s intentions were to refer to Michael Jackson as a pop culture artist whose legacy has influenced countless artists and designers, Louis Vuitton recently stated that they have decided to pull every Michael Jackson-inspired item from their 2019 fall/winter collection production. Additionally, the brand’s stores will no longer carry the collection items, and the items sold will “purely reflect the true values of the brand and of our artistic director.”