August 10, 2020
On the Bund docks by the Huangpu River, with a soundtrack from Korean pop artist Hyukohissues, and a live performance by Lauryn Hill, as background music, Virgil Abloh, Louis Vuitton artistic director, has recently presented the SS21 menswear collection in Shanghai in a place outfitted with LV-branded shipping containers, an unexpected yet pandemic-appropriate outdoor venue for the runway show. Diversity, inclusiveness, and unity are the watchwords for Louis Vuitton’s Spring/Summer 2021 men collection. This season, Virgil Abloh, decided to present his collection as a roaming concept in the form of a cruise with multiple stops. After leaving Paris, the collection titled “Message in a Bottle” crossed oceans to stop at Shanghai on August 6, 2021, and then will continue onto Tokyo where a new event will take place and will gradually reveal itself chapter by chapter until the end of the year.
In Shanghai, Virgil Abloh presented a line highlighting pure luxury tailoring. First, in a playful setting, the designer presented several models from his Fall/Winter 2020-2021 show before unveiling his Spring/Summer 2021 collection featuring models in brightly colored suits, some with gingham check, all enhanced with street details. Virgil Abloh continues to play with the rules and heritage of the fashion house by revisiting Louis Vuitton’s signature accessories, such as the iconic Keepall bag, but this time is branded with characters from “Zoooom and his friends”.
For this collection, an eco-friendly initiative has been taken by Louis Vuitton, including 25 pieces constructed from recycled overstock material and 25 pieces reissued from previous collections. The result is a boldly colored range of slim suiting, boxy outerwear and leather accessories adorned with playful animal characters, many of which are also applied as 3-D, stuffed animal-like embellishments to coats, jackets, and sweaters.
A nearly three-page-long manifesto on the collection, written by Virgil Abloh, touches on the current cultural climate surrounding racism and inclusivity (Abloh was recently criticized for his response to protests that took place following George Floyd‘s death), and specifies his own intent to amplify BIPOC voices in fashion: “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. I consider the Spring of 2020 to be a turning point in my tenure at Louis Vuitton. Now, my first four seasons collapse into one chapter to be recorded for the future upcycling of ideas … As we collectively resurge, consider this my manifesto: as a presence of color within the fashion establishment, I commit to inclusivity, unity, diversity, and individuality. I will continue to employ diverse candidates, financially support BIPOC and LGBTQ+ causes, shed light on businesses owned by BIPOC and LGBTQ+ individuals, work on public-facing initiatives that showcase BIPOC and LGBTQ+ role models, and assist organizations that promote more inclusive workforces.”