Newly-installed Louis Vuitton menswear designer Virgil Abloh continued to tease items in the lead up to his debut presentation for the label. Today (June 20, 2018) he caused jaws to drop when he revealed a pair of red millionaire “1.1” sunglasses on his Instagram feed.
The sunglasses have meaning for Abloh because they reference his friends, Pharrell Williams and Nigo, who in 2004 collaborated with then LV designer Marc Jacobs on the frames, dubbed “Millionaire.”
According to Complex, Louis Vuitton reissued them in 2007 in updated colorways. Very much an “it” item, they were sported by Rihanna, Jay-Z and the Louis Vuitton Don aka Kanye West, who was gifted a pair by his mother, Donda West. In her 2007 book, Raising Kanye, she addressed the purchase, writing, “I almost broke the bank to do it but his reaction when I handed him those millionaire glasses was worth it.”
In earlier Instagram posts, Abloh posted an image of Williams, Jacobs and Nigo and wrote in the caption, ““IN MY MIND”, where my heads at. incredibly surreal this week will be, so many words but a million more ideas. in honor of all those that came before me the spirit of why i love fashion period and why i love the savoir faire of @louisvuitton is in this very image.”
He followed with an image of West wearing the sunglasses with the caption, “the architect of it all.”
As for the 2018 version of the shades, Alboh hinted they might not be shown on runway for the label’s spring 2019 presentation on June 21st. In the caption of the image, he wrote, “1.1 millionaires” @louisvuittonin honor of @pharrell & @nigo ~ things that the runway show might not show.”
What’s cool about the reference is not just that Abloh is shouting out his friends and acknowledging West, he’s also retelling an LV story from the perspective of someone who was a fan of the brand but more or less an outsider.
It’s significant because Abloh is black and of hip hop culture, two identities Louis Vuitton until recently has held at arm’s length, selling to yes, but not recognizing with invites to prestigious events or representing in ad campaigns or with model casting. Now the ultimate insider, Abloh is taking the opportunity to retell all of the label’s stories albeit through a hip hop lens.