Virgil Abloh's Louis Vuitton Contemplates Archaic Societal Norms for FW21

The “Ebonics / Snake Oil / The Black Box / Mirror, Mirror” collection is presented in dramatically theatrical acts that critique the world we live in.

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Virgil Abloh has presented his latest collection for Louis Vuitton, showcasing the men’s Fall/Winter 2021 offering in what he calls “Ebonics / Snake Oil / The Black Box / Mirror, Mirror.” Following a controversial SS21 collection that industry critics and Walter Van Beirendonck himself blasted as the work of “COPYCATS,” FW21 feels fresh, revived, inspired, and reflective of a world we live in today, all while examing the “unconscious biases instilled in our collective psyche by the archaic norms of society.”

The show begins on a snowy hillside in Switzerland, capturing Saul Williams donning Louis Vuitton’s latest formalwear alongside one of the season’s hero items: a chrome monogram trunk bag. Scenes switch into a light-flooded room at the Tennis Club de Paris filled with a monolithic green marble structure, which houses models decked in this season’s favorite color, green. Together, Abloh’s choice of scenes reference James Baldwin’s essay Stranger in the Village, which notes the author’s time spent in a Swiss village and his life in America as an African-American man.

Baldwin’s essay further inspires the show’s entire presentation, which is broken into three acts expressed through dance, ice skating, poetry, and scenography. Outside of the structure, models walk around the sculpture with some laying on the floor, against the wall, or sitting on Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich’s iconic Barcelona Chair, nodding to Abloh’s idealization of the artist, the drifter, the architect, the salesman, and other archetypical characters of society.

Alongside this, Williams walks around listing off names of key cultural figures, before the sounds transition into jazz and bass at the hands of Yasiin Bey. In short, the presentations look to examine “the presumptions we make about people based on the way they dress: their cultural background, gender, and sexuality.”

The message becomes clearer as pieces in the collection become increasingly examined. Aphorisms coined by the conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner read “YOU CAN TELL A BOOK BY ITS COVER”, “THE SAME PLACE AT THE SAME TIME”, “SOMEWHERE SOMEHOW,” while Abloh’s “Tourist vs. Purist” terminology — which is his term for outsiders — all decorate garments and accessories.

Standout pieces from the collection include a transparent monogram suit, a sweater finished with mirrored LV monograms that embellish the garment like snowflakes, and a sculptural jacket. Elsewhere, we see more reflective accessories as well as new takes on house classics such as the Christopher backpack that now comes in Epi leather with a spray-painted effect, and notably, some sculptural pieces using original monogram leather, delivering an airplane bag that nods to the collection’s invites.

Plenty of formalwear is reinterpreted this upcoming season, with suits made from materials such as plastic all while sporting a full monogram print, boots turned more casual with Western cowboy styling cues such as metal toe caps, or other full suit looks finished in marble-printed fabrics.

Speaking on the collection, Abloh says, “Within my practice, I contribute to a Black canon of culture and art and its preservation. This is why, to preserve my own output, I record it at length.” Take a closer look at the full runway collection above.

In case you missed it, check out JW Anderson’s FW21 collection.

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