Following the recent passing of Virgil Abloh, who succumbed to cancer on November 28, the fashion industry is rife with rumors about his successor at Louis Vuitton. Quick off the mark, the British press has raised the possibility of rapper Kanye West, a close friend of Abloh, taking the reins of the brand’s menswear collections.
These speculative reports were first published by The Sun, a tabloid known more for sensational stories than fashion insights. The publication suggests that «the pair are said to have masterminded the move […] before Virgil’s death at the age of just 41.» The article also underscores the strong bond between Abloh and West, dating back to 2009 when they both underwent fashion training at Fendi, another brand owned by the French luxury conglomerate LVMH, which is also the parent company of Louis Vuitton.
In the same year, West collaborated with Louis Vuitton on three sneaker designs, marking a groundbreaking fusion of streetwear and luxury fashion. Subsequently, West launched his high-end streetwear label, Yeezy, in 2015.
However, West, who grapples with bipolar disorder, is known for his unpredictability, a trait that could raise doubts about his suitability for the role of creative director at an LVMH house, particularly at Louis Vuitton, the group’s historical flagship brand.
Another factor that may not play in West’s favor is his recent apparent alignment with Kering, a major competitor of LVMH. During the summer, West was seen at the runways of Kering-owned fashion houses such as Balenciaga and Bottega Veneta. Most notably, he entrusted the creative direction of an event celebrating the launch of his latest album, Donda, to Demna Gvasalia, the designer at Balenciaga.
While West’s appointment at Louis Vuitton remains uncertain, LVMH faces the challenge of finding a successor for Abloh to lead Louis Vuitton’s menswear collections. Additionally, the luxury conglomerate led by Bernard Arnault will need to identify a leader for Off-White, the brand founded by Abloh in which LVMH acquired a 60% stake in July. In both cases, the most likely scenario appears to be the appointment of an in-house designer as an interim solution