When fellow luxury houses were unveiling its Spring/Summer 2021 collections to a virtual audience, Virgil Abloh had kept the details on Louis Vuitton Men’s under wraps. Key influencers and media were treated to a socially distant teaser in Paris where housed in a shipping container, would transport viewers figuratively to China. Dubbed Zoooom With Friends, Spring/Summer 2021 begun digitally, through a squad of curious cartoon characters loaded into crates and shipped off to sea. Four weeks later and the collection materialised in front of a live audience in Shanghai. And amid the pandemic, is one of the first houses to do so, lending a hint of normalcy found within an eccentric tale.
On the banks of the Huangpu River, guests were treated to a larger-than-life presentation. Abloh who is usually visible at collection presentations was absent due to travel restrictions, yet his design ethos and creative DNA permeated throughout the runway. “What you’ve witnessed today is not just a mere musical performance or another fashion show,” Abloh said in a video, narrated by Hill and posted to his personal Instagram Thursday. “What you’ve seen is black imagination manifesting itself in real life.”
Award-winning, American singer Lauryn Hill was projected onto the shipping containers above for a virtual performance while models donned garments below for in-person viewing. Looks were what you expect of Abloh’s reign over Louis Vuitton. Classic blazers, jackets and patterns are treated with a strong shoulder pad dressed in vibrant colours and patterns while the sleek business tie lend a Wall Street vibe. Warped sunglasses and futuristic frames are reminiscent of The Matrix with ’90s flare and the same cartoons, can be seen transformed into knitted, stuffed toys found clutching to iconic bag silhouettes.
According to WWD, the runway broke records in China alone, with 85 millions views on Louis Vuitton’s livestream. In a world plagued with uncertainty, and despite his absence from the physical stage, Virgil Abloh combined a sense of normality, escapism and a political agenda (the use of all-Black collaborators a nod to the Black Lives Matter Movement) for an inclusive and impactful show.