Less than 24 hours after the world witnessed a historic inauguration, and on the same day that social media was abuzz with Bernie Sanders-inspired mitten memes, Virgil Abloh unveiled his sixth menswear collection for Louis Vuitton.
And like everything else the prolific designer is involved with, his fall 2021 outing (which you can watch here) was a poetic mashup of barrier-breaking moments seamlessly woven throughout a 70-look collection full of beautiful messaging, both sartorially and symbolically.
Presented via a short film, “Peculiar Contrast, Perfect Light,” the futuristic Businessman 2.0 collection featured now-viral standouts not least of which was a pair of 3-D coats — one bearing the Chicago skyline (where Abloh hails from), the other adorned with Parisian tourist hot spots including the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. The ultimate in eye-popping, look-at-me fashion, both jackets posed the inevitable question: Who will be the first to wear these IRL?
Said visuals also tapped into the idea of the words “Tourist vs. Purist,” a phrase emblazoned on ready-to-wear and accessories throughout the collection. As a minority in the fashion world who describes himself as an outsider who made his way in, Abloh identifies with young fashion die-hards who clamor every time he shows or drops. He told the Business of Fashion, “At one point, I was that kid.”
Abloh tapped British stylist Ibrahim Kamara, whose signature aesthetic challenges the idea of menswear and masculinity, to style a collection that ultimately was a celebration of blending a medley of cultures: bold blazers and striped ties paired with tartan plaid skirts, a Western hat worn atop loosely tailored business suits (this look was worn by Kai-Isaiah Jamal, the first black trans model to walk in a Louis Vuitton show), and in one outfit that Abloh described on his Instagram stories as “me in a nutshell,” a white hoodie, baggy jeans and sneakers styled underneath kente cloth (in honor of Abloh’s Ghanaian roots), was paired with a logo-covered handbag.
In a collection full of greatest hits, those who worship at the altar of Abloh will find no shortage of collector’s items: As rapper Saul Williams opened the film wearing a black coat, reciting James Baldwin’s “Stranger in the Village,” one couldn’t help but ogle the shiny silver briefcase he was carrying. Later on, the French label’s ubiquitous monogram logo appeared both in the shape of an airplane bag (a nod to travel, something Abloh is synonymous with) and a wallet shaped like a coffee cup (!). And the neon green houndstooth overcoat Mos Def wore during his finale performance, too.
In all, the collection was prolific, poetic, optimistic — much like Abloh.