Universality. Inclusivity. Boundless international vision. In the latest times, it is easy to lose track of some of these aspects, confinement and a smaller-than-usual living space have shifted our focus from worldliness to oneness. In the coming months, it will be imperative to keep in mind who and what we are as the whole planet emerges from crisis and into a new dawn. Resurgence is the mantra of our current time, in the words of Virgil Abloh, Artistic Director for Louis Vuitton’s Menswear collections, as we grasp on to hope, rising from uncertainty towards a new beginning.
It is under this concept that Abloh created the Spring-Summer 2021 Men collection for Louis Vuitton, re-emerging from a lengthened isolation period for the House. Aptly named “Message in a Bottle” this collection breaks with all previous conventions in the fashion industry, turning the world on its head to create an outstanding beacon of colourful hope that far and wide. And travel it does, as the collection is not presented on the solitary walkway of the Paris Fashion Week, but rather in a cleverly designed stage mounted on a boat, bound to voyage across the ocean to bring the collection to new horizons. The collection is embodied in the form of Zoooom with friends, a group of diverse animated characters that flagship the whole concept behind the line. Cleverly hidden within the ship, Zoooom and friends are stowaways accompanying the outfits on each presentation across the world, bringing joy and wonder with them along the way.
Abloh has long been pursuing the concept of boyhood, exploring it in his previous seasons’ lines, and this time, he takes it a step further: more than evoking the nostalgic nature of the remembrance of youth, he celebrates the pristine eyes of children as they observe the world, wonder and discovery at every turn. Before children grow up they are uncontaminated by societal standards and look at their surrounding in such light: no race, gender or size exist for them, no Manichaean concepts are conceivable, black and white are not sole-standing opposites but rather ends of a whole scale awaiting to be discovered. Zoooom with friends take this worldview as their core value, and as they appear on several pieces in this collection, along with the outlandish patterns and vibrant colours, they reminisce of this childlike scope where boundaries and societal separation does not exist.
The concept of universality through the youngest of views is further explored in the runways themselves: forever moving across key ports around the world—so far, Paris, Shanghai and Tokyo have been the hosting locales for the shows—the models sporting the looks are ever changing: locals are invited to wear the collection, proving and reaffirming Abloh’s idea of his artistic view for Louis Vuitton to be available for anyone. As a young black man, he expressed his wishes for future young men of colour who might be able to see themselves represented in the historical reflection of luxury. This same idea travels along with the collection: Chinese, Japanese and French models alike have worn the outfits, expanding upon Virgil Abloh’s views of diversity.
The last key idea behind this eclectic collection is the ability to make high-fashion sustainable, with upcycling and recycling being heavily featured in this season’s pieces: 30 looks are made from new materials, while 25 looks are made from recycled materials from previous seasons, and 25 more are directly taken from the previous collection, this time reshown and remembered under this season’s new vision. As well, a capsule collection named “Homework” features works by Abloh’s team of designers done while on domestic confinement, which resulted in free creations, liberated silhouettes taken far apart from predisposed objectives. All upcycled and recycled silhouettes and materials bear the new Upcycling Signal Logo, the new LV emblem that signifies “old with new value”.
All of the collection’s looks are outstanding and accurately represent all of Abloh’s core values when designing this season’s ensembles, however, certain outfits are especially noteworthy. Among these, a long surcoat bearing the Tricolour Louis Vuitton monogram all over, paired with a black classic shirt, green silk tie, bunched-up tailored flared trousers in black, accessorized with black and white LV drop earrings, black baseball cap and fluorescent green lace-up shoes, together with a monogram Macassar briefcase, sporting the LV dragon and Louis the wolf patch, part of the Zoooom gang. A coordinated ensemble of Norse blue and white, distorted checkerboard leather jacket and pants, blazing yellow shirt and black tie, a striking combination of great movement, topped with Space sunglasses, purposely mismatched earrings featuring a LV bird stud and LV dragon and a white Taurillon leather trunk backpack with an LV puppet print embodies the playful yet sophisticated essence of this collection. An all-black outfit with a blazing yellow shirt, features an oversized beaded LV puppet on its double-breasted front creates a mesmerizing illusion mixing luxury and play. The oversized silhouette of the Norse blue and white parka with matching blazing yellow shirt and trousers rises as one of the most distinguishable shapes in the line. Perhaps the most blatant representation of the overall childlike essence of the Spring-Summer 2021 collection is the Norse blue and white Damier oversized trucker jacket with a matching patchwork flamingo puppet on the front, yellow shirt and black tie, all accompanied by a Taurillon leather Keepall bag embroidered with patched puppets and a LV checkerboard earring, and Damier skate sneakers, the true creation of playfulness and limitless creativity.
The Spring-Summer 2021 Menswear collection by Louis Vuitton and Virgil Abloh is here to revolutionize the industry and the world’s view of fashion overall. Doing away with the concept of waste, this season’s understanding of uniqueness is special, completely distinct from previous collections. Resurgence can only come from a truly pure intention, and Abloh’s way of demonstrating this is through the praise and celebration of childhood, of boyhood, and the erasure of boundaries between old and new, between us and them, between fashion and wonder. This is the Message in a Bottle Abloh delivers to all the corners of the world, a voyage bringing hope in the most uncertain of times, a beacon to strive for a better world for everyone.