In the wake of Leaving Neverland, the French fashion house is not producing its Michael Jackson-inspired pieces from the latest menswear collection
Louis Vuitton’s Fall/Winter 2019 menswear collection drew a lot inspiration from performer Michael Jackson. From the backdrop (designed to resemble the “Billie Jean” music video set) to the graphic tees (which featured the singer’s infamous high socks and loafers), Jackson’s influence on the men’s artistic director, Virgil Abloh, was highly prevalent.
But since the release of the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, and the controversy that has ensued from the claims made against the idolized pop star, the brand has decided not to produce any of its Jackson-inspired looks from the show. In addition to the T-shirt, pieces in the collection featured Jackson’s character from the 1978 film The Wiz. And some models wore bedazzled white gloves (one of Jackson’s signatures) down the runway.
Both LVMH, the owner of Louis Vuitton, and Abloh, released a statement to WWD about their decision to pull any Jackson-themed items from the line. “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,” Abloh said in a statement to WWD.
The outlet reported that the brand said that it were “unaware” of the documentary before the men’s collection debuted, and it caused the house “the greatest pain.” (The show took place on January 17, while Leaving Neverland screened at Sundance on January 25.)
“We find the allegations in the documentary deeply troubling and disturbing,” said Michael Burke, Vuitton’s chairman and chief executive officer. “Child safety and welfare is of utmost importance to Louis Vuitton. We are fully committed to advocating this cause.”
Abloh has often been influenced by the pop star before. He named his first collection “We Are the World,” after Jackson’s 1985 single and his second collection drew heavy influence from The Wiz.
In an interview with The New Yorker earlier this year, he said he hadn’t heard of the documentary at the time, but that he was focusing on “the Michael that I thought was universally accepted, the good side, his humanitarian self.”
He also reiterated the statement to WWD. “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,” Abloh said in his statement.
In February Jackson’s estate filed a lawsuit against HBO claiming the documentary violates a non-disparagement clause in which the network agreed to not speak ill of the singer and also cited Jackson’s 2005 acquittal of child molestation charges against him, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.
Jackson’s brothers Tito, Marlon, Jackie and the singer’s nephew Taj, defended him in an interview with CBS This Morning, in which they refuted the claims made in the documentary, though they admitted they hadn’t yet viewed it.