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Louis Vuitton menswear AW21 19
Louis Vuitton menswear AW21Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

Virgil Abloh presents wearable cityscapes at Louis Vuitton

If you can’t go to the city, bring the city to you

Ten months into the pandemic and it’s likely you’re as sick of looking at the same four walls as we are. Seemingly, Virgil Abloh’s feeling the same kind of cabin fever as the rest of us. Debuting his latest collection for Louis Vuitton via a short, conceptual film, the designer took us to Paris and beyond via two very conceptual looks. As for the rest of the show? Here’s everything you need to know. 

THE INVITE WAS A FLIGHT RECORDER BOX

...inside which the parts for an LV-embossed wooden plane were waiting to be assembled – which is about as close as most of us are going to get to hitting the skies right now. The pièce de résistance, however, was the invite itself: a Louis Vuitton-branded airline sick bag. Truly inspired. 

VIRGIL ENLISTED SOME ICONIC (AND HISTORY-MAKING) MODELS FOR AW21

Inspired by James Baldwin’s 1953 essay Stranger in the Village, the captivating film opened with a sweeping shot of the snowy Swiss Alps – before landing in an extremely chic, malacite marble-dripping departures lounge (Luton at 4am this was not). 

Reciting a rousing portion of his performance piece “Coded Language”, Saul Williams made his way around the space, as models watched from benches, sat slumped against walls as if waiting for connections, and dashed to make their final boarding calls. Picking up where Williams left off later in the short was Yasiin Bey – aka Mos Def – who debuted a number of original tracks, with rising poet Kai-Isaiah Jamal later making history as the first Black, trans model to walk a Louis Vuitton show. The whole show was about breaking down boundaries – and Abloh has certainly broken a few.

THE COLLECTION WAS ONE FOR THE PLANE SPOTTERS

...just in case the invite didn’t give that away. Dramatic floor-sweeping overcoats with wide shoulders were finished with chunky aeroplane buttons, while LV’s signature monogram leather was reworked into jet-shaped bags and metallic wheel-along suitcases. 

“As children, our dreams and aspirations are personified by archetypes,” Abloh wrote in the show notes, explaining that his intention this season was to explore “the presumptions we make about people based on the way they dress: their cultural background, gender, and sexuality,” before dismantling these ideas accordingly. Remixing characters including the corporate businessman, the artist, the salesman, and the drifter, the result was an eclectic offering which drew inspiration from cultures around the world, defied gender codes, and left the models difficult to pigeonhole. Ghanian Kente cloths were crafted from Scottish tartan, durags were worn with stetson-like cowboy hats, and skirts were layered over trousers, with more hype-y pieces including varsity jackets, structured vests, and chunky, gold-buckled belts also featuring heavily. 

As styled by our incoming editor-in-chief Ib Kamara, looks were finished with branded reusable coffee cups (need) and hot-off-the-press Louis Vuitton newspapers. No word on whether the multi-hyphenate designer’s thinking on dropping his own LV publication, but honestly, it certainly wouldn’t surprise us if he did.

THERE WAS AN ARTIST COLLAB

Abloh enlisted conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner to plaster statements inspired by the collection’s themes across accessories, with “You can tell a book by its cover” and “The same place at the same time” running down bag straps and across sashes that sliced diagonally through sharp tailored suits. 

VIRGIL CELEBRATED HIS ARCHITECTURAL ROOTS

Also landing on the runway were a pair of highly conceptual jackets, one of which had been constructed with skyscraper sculptures that rose from its hem. The other was a more decorative style, featuring an effigy of the Eiffel Tower and a Parisian maison jutting from its shoulder, as well as the Louvre’s iconic pyramid to its hip. Both pieces celebrated the meeting of Abloh’s architectural and fashion expertise, and asked: if you can’t go to the city right now, why not bring the city to you? 

Check the collection out in the gallery about and watch the show below.