Louis Vuitton pulls Michael Jackson-inspired clothing from collection

by Kim Boateng Posted on March 15th, 2019

French luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton says it has pulled items from its fall menswear collection that drew inspiration from Michael Jackson following the release of a documentary which detailed allegations by two men who said the pop star molested them as children.

LVMH, the owner of Louis Vuitton, said in a statement Thursday that they will not produce pieces “that directly features Michael Jackson elements.”

The 65-piece collection — which included a T-shirt with an image of Jackson’s dance shoes on it and shirts etched with his character from his 1978 movie “The Wiz” — debuted during a fashion show in January a week before the documentary “Leaving Neverland” screened at the Sundance Film Festival.

It aired on HBO earlier this month and led an immediate fallout, which included some radio stations in Canada and the Netherlands deciding not to play his music and an episode of “The Simpsons” which featured Jackson’s voice being pulled from all future broadcasts.

The brand’s men’s artistic director, Virgil Abloh, said that he condemns “any form of child abuse, violence or infringement against any human rights.”

“I am aware that in light of this documentary the show has caused emotional reactions,” he said in a statement to the outlet.

Abloh said that he intended to pay homage to Jackson’s musical career.

“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.

The collection, which had multiple inspirations besides Jackson, will still be released in stores, the company said.

Michael Burke, the brand’s chairman and chief executive officer said in a separate statement that the allegations raised in the film were “deeply troubling and disturbing.” Louis Vuitton also said it was “unaware” of the documentary at the time of the fashion show.

“Child safety and welfare is of utmost importance to Louis Vuitton. We are fully committed to advocating this cause,” Burke said.

Wade Robson, who claims Jackson abused him when he was 7, and James Safechuck, who claims the abuse started when he was 10, had previously told authorities there had been no sexual misconduct involving Jackson.

Robson testified in Jackson’s defense at the 2005 molestation trial. But they have since filed lawsuits against the singer’s estate. They are appealing after their suits were dismissed due to the statute of limitations.

Jackson, who died in 2009, was acquitted in 2005 of charges of molesting a 13-year-old boy, unrelated to the documentary, at his Neverland ranch in California. He long denied allegations of sex abuse.

In February, his estate filed a lawsuit against HBO saying the documentary breached an agreement that it would not disparage the pop star.

The family also said the film and news coverage of the allegation were a “public lynching” and Jackson was “100 percent innocent.”

Vuitton is the latest brand to swiftly address controversy surrounding its products, reflecting increased pressure on luxury players in the age of social media to respond to any potential customer concerns, whether it is directly to blame for the issue or not.

Gucci last month unveiled a series of initiatives to achieve cultural diversity and awareness throughout its organization and activities globally, following accusations that its balaclava-style sweater evoked blackface.

Prada, meanwhile, said it had tapped artist and activist Theaster Gates and award-winning writer, director and producer Ava DuVernay to co-chair its Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council, after facing online accusations that animal-like figurines and charms in its stores and windows also evoked blackface.

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