HORIZON LIGHT UP SPEAKER, LOUIS VUITTON, SHOP NOW
Life On Mars
Creative Direction: Dané Stojanovic
Still Life Photography: Efraim Evidor
Space Photography: NASA
Art Direction: Kimberlee Kessler
Words: Grace O’Neill
It’s no surprise that the art of travel was on designers’ minds while crafting the Fall/Winter 2021 collections, but for Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton, the travel he was focused on wasn’t necessarily earthbound. From the opening look, this collection concerned itself with questions of movement; the classic Louis Vuitton Keepall was reworked into the form of a plane, another saw the poet and songwriter Saul Williams don an oversized coat affixed with plane-shaped buttons, and accessories were emblazoned with the words ‘tourist’ and ‘purist’ – a dichotomy Abloh has been exploring since his arrival at the house in 2018.
The presentation, a film directed by Josh Johnson, also had a decidedly futuristic flavour – the runway cut between the snowy expanses of the Swiss alps and then a glossy marble studio that felt reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Backpacks were shaped like rocket ships, embossed monogram jackets were reworked in a Barbarella shade of futuristic silver.
There was a deeper resonance to the collection too. Entitled ‘Ebonics’, Abloh blended codes of Louis Vuitton’s European heritage with Ghanaean and African-inspired details like kente cloth. Saul Williams and Kai Isiah Jamal read poetry that meditated on the Black experience in America. Williams chanted the names of the world’s great artists and thinkers, placing James Baldwin, Billie Holliday, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Duke Ellington in their rightful place alongside William Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, Sylvia Plath and Federico Fellini. It was one of the season’s most moving presentations and it posed an uncomfortable question: will humankind really achieve commercialised space travel before it properly recognises the work of artists of colour?
The question of travel is one that has long fascinated the house of Louis Vuitton – it is, after all, a brand that first made its name as purveyors of fine leather cases. For the womenswear Fall/Winter 21 collection, Nicolas Ghesquière was inspired by space travel, and on November 1st the house will release The Louis Vuitton Travel Book: Mars, an illustrated travel book by French writer Sylvain Tesson and the Belgian comic illustrator François Schuiten. Here’s hoping we won’t be relocating to the outer corners of space in the near future – but if we do, we know who we’ll be looking to to outfit our interstellar travel.