back to top
World

Louis Vuitton Just Appointed Its First Black Director And People Are Here For Him

Expect Ghanaian-American Virgil Abloh to shake things up at the French luxury brand.

Posted on

Ghanaian-American Virgil Abloh has made history by becoming artistic director at Louis Vuitton, the first black man to hold the top position at the world's largest luxury brand.

.@VirgilAbloh joins #LouisVuitton Louis Vuitton is delighted to welcome Virgil Abloh as its new Men’s Artistic Director. His first show will take place in June during Men’s Fashion Week in Paris. https://t.co/4aEOH7T9J8

You may already know him as Kanye West’s creative designer, or as the man behind the killer streetwear from Off-White. But Monday's announcement launches Abloh into a whole 'nother atmosphere.

Abloh, who was born in Ghana and grew up in Illinois after his parents emigrated to the US, is breaking down entrenched color barriers in the lily-white world of fashion.

Francois Guillot / AFP / Getty Images

The 37-year-old is one of three black designers ever at the top of a French heritage house, joining Olivier Rousteing at Balmain and Ozwald Boateng, former head of Givenchy menswear.

“I feel elated,” Abloh said in an interview with the New York Times.

Jamie Mccarthy / Getty Images

“This opportunity to think through what the next chapter of design and luxury will mean at a brand that represents the pinnacle of luxury was always a goal in my wildest dreams," he said. "And to show a younger generation that there is no one way anyone in this kind of position has to look is a fantastically modern spirit in which to start.”

Advertisement

Abloh has since built on that with several of his own fashion brands and collaborations with everyone from New York City Ballet to Sunglasses Hut. Last year, he scooped Nike's coveted “sneaker of the year.”

Nike x Virgil Abloh “The Ten” VaporMax Raffle Info https://t.co/p0JHuNBKCn

In 2013, Abloh founded the Milan-based streetwear brand Off-White — so called because he believed old barriers in the rarefied world of fashion were falling — which quickly gained a cult-like status among style mavens and celebrities alike. Fans from Pusha T to Diddy were quick to celebrate Abloh on social media.

Instagram: @off____white

Abloh has said his mission behind Off-White was to make streetwear clothing high fashion, a drive his new bosses see as crucial as the French fashion house taps into the upcoming generation. “Virgil is incredibly good at creating bridges between the classic and the zeitgeist of the moment,” said Michael Burke, chief executive of Louis Vuitton.

Advertisement

Ghana has been having a moment in fashion lately, gifting not only Ozwald Boateng, but Vogue's first black editor Edward Enninful. Naturally, Ghanaians were quick to claim one of their own.

A Ghanaian American was just hired as Louis Vuitton’s Menswear Designer. The first black CD in the house’s history, and they rep Ghana. The barrier was broken. 🇬🇭 🙏🏾 @virgilabloh

The love came from everywhere, though.

Virgil Abloh is breaking down walls. He’s not a traditional designer. He doesn’t come from a traditional designer background yet he is now creative director at Louis Vuitton that’s fucking insane. He has a degree in Architecture! He didn’t even go to fashion school!

Abloh has also shown he's not afraid to get political. During last year's Florence menswear show, he collaborated on a piece about the global immigrant crisis.

.@OffWht Makes a Statement for #SS18 - @virgilabloh said “he was zeroing in on a life raft, the colors, the warnings, the plastic.” As the son of a Ghana refugee himself, Abloh aims to open up a dialogue about ethical responsibility to a new generation https://t.co/DCSQSNJWkq

This being the world of high fashion, Abloh's appointment has not been without ~controversy~. Critics have accused him of building off of others’ designs rather than creating his own.

good morning happy monday !! may u scam ur way through this week with the confidence of virgil abloh

Ouch!

But overall, the reaction was a resounding "IT IS ABOUT TIME" from both sides of the ocean.

Breaking: @LouisVuitton has just named Virgil Abloh as its new artistic director of menswear. Virgil is one of three Black designers at the top of a French heritage house. (Olivier Rousteing at Balmain and Ozwald Boateng, who was at Givenchy menswear) Congrats! https://t.co/5FLtfULH3p

Virgil Abloh went from designing album covers for Kanye to making the shoe of the year with Nike to now being the creative director at Louis Vuitton. Power.

Monica Mark is the West Africa Correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Dakar, Senegal.

Contact Monica Mark at monica.mark@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.