Guido Palau's behind-the-scenes look at Virgil Abloh's Louis Vuitton debut

Published 26th June 2018
Credit: Courtesy Louis Vuitton
Guido Palau's behind-the-scenes look at Virgil Abloh's Louis Vuitton debut
Written by Samantha Tse, CNN
When Virgil Abloh was named artistic director of Louis Vuitton menswear earlier this year, questions abounded about how the American designer would evolve the brand. And last week, at the most anticipated show of the season, those questions were answered.
His debut heralded in a new aesthetic for the brand. Mixing street influences with tailoring, her transformed everyday staples into luxury items: Hoodies were crafted with the same techniques as tailored suits; jean jackets cut from white mink.
Backstage at Louis Vuitton Spring-Summer 2019
Backstage at Louis Vuitton Spring-Summer 2019 Credit: Courtesy Louis Vuitton
"Virgil Abloh helming the august house of Louis Vuitton is momentous in fashion as it represents a new embrace of youth and streetwear, a move away from dusty notions of luxury and what many view as elitist," editor-in-chief Lee Carter said of the show.
Modeled by a mix of Abloh's friends and professionals, the collection celebrated individuality and diversity -- as did the hair direction. For this, he turned to the man who has helped define runway hair aesthetics for decades: Guido Palau.
For the last 25 years, Palau has been one of the most sought-after hairstylists in fashion, with a formidable client roster that includes Versace, Prada, Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent. He first rose to prominence in the 1990s, when he worked on George Michael's "Freedom" music video, and, with photographer David Sims, disrupted the status quo by championing the grunge aesthetic. His campaigns with Kate Moss for Calvin Klein, and a celebrated partnership with the late Alexander McQueen brought him further acclaim.
Louis Vuitton Spring-Summer 2019
Louis Vuitton Spring-Summer 2019 Credit: Courtesy Louis Vuitton
"He's such an artist and everyone knows that he's responsible for some of the most iconic looks and groundbreaking styles," said Alex Bedia, style director for Women's Wear Daily. "He's an absolute legend."
Palau found working with Abloh at Louis Vuitton to be a particularly interesting challenge.
"I've worked with Vuitton for many years, but Virgil is a new designer to me so it's very exciting to be part of his creative process and it's always very flattering to be asked by new talent to be part of their creative journey," Palau said. "These new designers take a hold of houses that have their identities, but bring a newness to them that I think is a great thing."
Louis Vuitton Spring-Summer 2019
Louis Vuitton Spring-Summer 2019 Credit: Courtesy Louis Vuitton
In the lead-up to the show, Palau and Abloh discussed the designer's vision for the brand and how this could be complimented by the hair. Abloh shared concepts and sources of inspirations from which Palau took his cue.
"When you work with a designer, they don't speak hair language, but they might speak in abstract words or concepts and it's for me to pick up on that and interpret it into doing hair," Palau said.
"For me, it was about cleaning up their hair, barbering it and making (the models) look the best they could, but within the character of these really powerful men."
Palau also brought his creative touch to Dior Homme, where Kim Jones, the former artistic director at Louis Vuitton, made his debut at the helm.
Jones reinterpreted designs from the brand's womenswear archive for the modern man -- think suits in the house's signature pink, and shirts in delicate toile. To keep with the sense of refinement, Palau opted for a simple part and blew out most models' hair to create a uniform elegance. The two men had worked together before, so Palau understood the designer's language and preferences.
Dior Homme Spring-Summer 2019
Dior Homme Spring-Summer 2019 Credit: Courtesy Patrice Stable
"I've known Kim since the beginning of his career, but he's working for a different house and I wanted to bring his sensibilities and give it a Dior-ness," said Palau, who has worked Dior's ready-to-wear and couture womenswear lines for several seasons.
Palau's influence extend beyond the runway. In his creative director role for Redken he develops new products and trains stylists at the brand's styling schools in New York.
"I'm always telling people that work in the salons, I'm always learning. Every single day I do a job, I learn something new about hair," Palau said