by Stephen Garner

In his first campaign for Louis Vuitton, men’s artistic director Virgil Abloh illuminates the values established in his spring/summer 2019 collection.

Chaptered in three phases released from January until March, the multi-media campaign investigates ideas of individual perception and evolvement through lenses of inclusivity.

It’s first campaign, entitled “Infancy, Childhood and Adolescence”, shot by Inez & Vinoodh, exercises the ongoing study of boyhood first introduced by Abloh in his spring/summer 2019 collection for Louis Vuitton.

Focusing on the development stages that form a man’s identity and wardrobe, key pieces from spring/summer 2019 are represented on individuals at different points in a person’s upbringing. They appear in still and moving imagery, bathed in poppy and rainbow motifs central to The Wizard of Oz allegories that paint the collection.

The models: Alieyth, a 3-year-old, and Jack, 2, embody the purity of infancy, still unaffected by preordained perceptions of gender, color and creed. Shot in surroundings native to childhood and teenage life, actors Leo James Davis, 7, Evan Rosado, 12, and Luke Prael, 16, illustrate the pre-teen and teen stages of boyhood and reflect on the desires and dreams of their generation.

The second release of the campaign, to debut on February 1, is called “The Painter’s Studio”. Shot by Mohamed Bourouissa, it reimagines in photography the 1855 oil on canvas work The Painter’s Studio by the French realist Gustave Courbet.

Painted the year after Louis Vuitton established his House, the original work depicts Courbet working on a painting, flanked to his left by people from all levels of French society, and to his right by members of high society. Through the contemporary perspective of Abloh, the designer is pictured fitting a look from spring/summer 2019 surrounded by members of his team, social circle, and models, each clad in the collection.

Where Courbet’s painting interpreted ‘real world’ society for the eyes of the cultural elite, Abloh portrays the all-encompassing exchange that defines his vision for Louis Vuitton: diversity, inclusivity, and unity. The image appears in full as well as in close-ups from the canvas.

The third release, called “School Teens”, will be revealed on March 22. Shot by Raimond Wouda, this campaign depicts the formative communication between teenagers in group situations fundamental to the evolvement of a man from boyhood into adulthood. Students dressed in block-color t-shirts evoke the spring/summer 2019 Louis Vuitton show for which Abloh invited 1,500 young students clad in similar garments to form the color spectrum of a rainbow.

A contemporary take on the schuttersstukken of the Dutch Baroque, the images were photographed around schools in Los Angeles and observe the interactive culture specific to our teenage years: the desire to belong, contrasted by the need for individuality. In constant evolution with the times, this age-particular tension between uniformity and diversity paves the way for a man’s future understanding of his own identity, wardrobe and what that means.