Image Credit: Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton just presented its Men’s Fall Winter 2021 collection through a highly anticipated fashion film. This show, which is Virgil Abloh’s sixth collection since joining the French fashion house as men’s artistic director, focuses on the ideas and experiences as well as the struggles of black men and trans individuals, as well as other marginalised people. The show begins on an unknown snowy hill as we see the poet and musician Saul Williams clutching onto a bright silver Louis Vuitton monogram briefcase, sporting a wide fitting black suit with a 1950s fedora hat to match.
We then move to a beautiful marbled location, where models follow Saul Williams in tow as he begins to recite a powerful poem on race and struggle. The show was flawlessly choreographed and was styled by Ib Kamara. Models can be seen gliding past one another in oversized suits, vests and fedoras, inspired by the style of the 1930s. The suits were in an array of colours, with some featuring the classic all-over LV monogram. There was a more feminine approach to menswear compared to Abloh’s previous collections through the use of skirts and floor-length, gown-like overcoats.
The collection sees Virgil create different storylines, through each outfit you can see a sort of character archetype, like “The Salesman”, “The Drifter”, “The Artist” and more. These ideas, alongside James Baldwin’s Stranger in the Village, and conceptual art from Lawrence Reiner, helped inspire the artistic performance.
This collection had a strong focus and tie to black culture, particularly the cultural impact of black men on fashion. Drawing on his Ghanaian heritage, Abloh had models sport designs made of kente cloth, given a Scottish tartan print. An odd choice perhaps to combine the two, but it speaks to Abloh merging his own heritage with other cultures. Abloh additionally included in the collection fur-lined coats and oversized hats, reminiscent of the Harlem renaissance.
The show took positive strides towards the representation of trans people in fashion. Kai-Isaiah Jamal became the first black trans model to work for Louis Vuitton. The trans-activist and poet also delivered a reading through voice-over during the show. With Virgil Abloh at the helm of Louis Vuitton, he allowed the content of the show itself to display something very meaningful about the work that black men and women, and trans people have done to contribute to art and society.
Though the show invitations came in an LV orange colour, green was one of the predominant colours of the show. It appeared on more casual pieces such as a varsity jacket and motorcycle-inspired jacket, as well as on oversized knitwear and outerwear. The colour green has long been associated with luck, health and tranquillity.
Travel was also a key inspiration for the collection and one that is certain to become a hyped fixation among fans. Models wore coats brandished with buttons in the form of planes, while others wore knitted jumpers with embroidered jets as well as a bag in the form of an actual plane. Some models sported a jumper that featured a 3D design of architectural landmarks such as a Jumper featuring famous Paris tourists sites such as the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. A more cosmopolitan top could also be seen, decorated in skyscrapers that rose, almost covering the models head.
Then there were the accessories, a studded mix of classic pieces, reimagined for the modern era as well as some new takes on luggage. One of the pieces we are sure will become a sell-out was a yellow handbag marked with the phrase ‘Tourist vs Purist’ on it. This is an important phrase to Virgil, often denoting the difference between the ‘outsider’ and the ‘insider’, something that he has often discussed in his life as a black man entering the world of fashion.
The show ends with a performance from musician and rapper Yasiin Bey, better known as Mos Def. He bursts into song, rapping to a head-thumping beat as the models converge and dance around him. As they begin to exit the stage, Bey is seen placing a kalimba into the silver briefcase, the piece that started the whole show off.
This Louis Vuitton show has already become a classic for so many reasons, one being Virgil Abloh’s continued ability to start a dialogue, creating a higher demand for his clothing in the process. But really, this collection was a powerful, perfectly prepared show that touches you on an emotional level. From the bold and brave poetry of Saul Williams to the upbeat music of Yasiin Bey, the collection’s focus on black culture and Virgil placed that importance on a global scale. It is indicative of the strides we are able to make in a fashion industry that too often keeps black artists and culture on the sideline.
Watch the full Men’s Fall-Winter 2021 Fashion Show below.