Louis Vuitton is pulling Michael Jackson-related items from its fall 2019 menswear collection, Reuters reports. The decision comes after HBO’s airing of Leaving Neverland, a two-part documentary featuring interviews with two men who claim they were sexually abused by Jackson when they were children. Pitchfork has contacted representatives for the Michael Jackson Estate, Louis Vuitton, and artistic director of menswear Virgil Abloh.
Louis Vuitton’s fall 2019 menswear collection debuted in Paris this past January. The set was meant to evoke Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” music video. In addition, the collection featured clothing that alluded to Jackson’s stage costumes. According to Women’s Wear Daily, Louis Vuitton said it would pull clothing “that directly features Michael Jackson elements.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Louis Vuitton released the following statement: “The documentary Leaving Neverland featuring two men who allege they were sexually abused as children by Michael Jackson has caused us the greatest pain…. It is important to mention that we were unaware of this documentary at the time of the last LV FW19 Men’s Show.”
Michael Burke, Louis Vuitton’s chairman and chief executive officer, 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.”
Virgil Abloh said in a statement to WWD, “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.” He also explained, “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.”
In a recent profile for The New Yorker, Abloh said he had not “heard anything” about Leaving Neverland and that, with the collection, “he wanted to focus on ‘the Michael that I thought was universally accepted, the good side, his humanitarian self.’”
The Michael Jackson Estate has been heavily critical of Leaving Neverland, calling the alleged victims “perjurers” and the documentary “sensationalist.” Members of the Jackson family have also gone on TV to denounce the documentary. In addition, the Jackson Estate is currently suing HBO over Leaving Neverland.
Since the documentary’s airing, “The Simpsons” executive producer James L. Brooks has announced that an episode featuring Michael Jackson’s voice will be removed from circulation.
Read “HBO’s Michael Jackson Documentary Leaving Neverland Is Damning—But Flawed” on the Pitch.