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The Fall 2021 collection “Ebonics / Snake Oil / The Black Box / Mirror, Mirror” by Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton is a critique of contemporary society and the superficiality with which human beings judge. Virgil examines the unconscious prejudices of the collective psyche. And what are often the conditions for the first judgment, that is the dress. The message becomes clearer as the pieces of the Collection are shown in this video-fashion show-performance. Aphorisms coined by the conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner read “YOU CAN TELL A BOOK FROM THE COVER,” “THE SAME PLACE AT THE SAME TIME”, “FROM SOMEPLACE TO SOME TIME”. Abloh’s “Tourist vs. Purist” terminology decorates both garments and accessories.

The show begins with a vision of a snowy landscape and a narration by rapper Saul Williams. Coming from the woods, we see a town in the distance and, immediately after, we are projected into an ideal building, made of large essential spaces covered with colored marble. Elements that form the catwalk to the looks of the new Louis Vuitton collection. The modernist scenography, set up at the Tennis Club de Paris, takes the appearance of an imaginary station, a place where there are those who arrive, those who wait, and those who go. A bustle of people from all cultural and social backgrounds, who carry on the ideal of travel, is intrinsic to the brand’s history. On the other hand, the theme of the trip had been anticipated by the particular invitation created and conceived by Abloh: an airplane.

Highlights of the Collection include a sheer monogram dress; a sweater finished with mirrored-effect LV monograms that embellish the garment like snowflakes; A jacket with sculptural proportions. The new interpretations of Maison’s classics are striking, such as the Christopher model, which is now available in Epi leather with a spray-painted effect. Many formal looks with dresses made of unusual materials such as plastic or overlapping kilts over trousers, paired with accessories such as cowboy-style boots such as metal toes. Other formal suits feature marble-effect prints. A collection that plays on contrasts.

The show staged at Paris Fashion Week asks the questions: Who can claim art? What defines low vs high? Who can make art? Who are the users? After the events of 2020, Virgil Abloh proposes that society could have the opportunity to create a “new normal” in which we free ourselves from the prejudices created around people, ideas, and art. Furthermore, perpetuating the upcycling ideology of spring-summer 2021, the new Louis Vuitton collection offers several ideas for reworking garments and accessories from previous seasons.

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