In January, designer Virgil Abloh presented his second Louis Vuitton menswear collection. The runway show, staged in Paris, was a tribute to Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” music video—the collection featured lots of black and purple, crystal-embroidered tour jackets, and performance tributes to the singer. Now, in light of the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, a statement released on Thursday announced that the Jackson-themed pieces from the offering will not be going into production.
First reported by WWD, Louis Vuitton and Abloh released a joint statement addressing the collection. “My intention for this show was to refer to Michael Jackson as a pop culture artist. It referred only to his public life that we all know and to his legacy that has influenced a whole generation of artists and designers,” said Abloh. “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.”
Michael Burke, the brand’s chairman and CEO, also added: “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 Fall 2019 pieces likely not to be produced are a graphic T-shirt with Jackson’s socks-and-loafers signature, white gloves, and pieces that featured print’s from 1978’s The Wiz, which starred Jackson as the Scarecrow.
In a recent interview with The New Yorker, Abloh said that he hadn’t seen the documentary that alleges severe sexual abuse by the singer. In the profile, the designer said he wanted to focus on “the Michael that I thought was universally accepted, the good side, his humanitarian self.” Jackson has been a longtime inspiration for the designer; Abloh once described the late singer as “the ultimate muse” to Business of Fashion‘s Tim Blanks.
“Louis Vuitton will make sure the collection purely reflects the true values of the brand and of our Artistic Director, and also that there is absolutely no item that directly features Michael Jackson elements,” a spokesperson told Fashionista. “The [Fall 2019] men’s collection has multiple inspirations and will be launched in stores in July.”