Louis Vuitton: The new Black office culture
Nice to finally see someone spending a ton of money of a fashion video, as Louis Vuitton unveiled an elegiac collection video on Thursday during Paris menswear week that addressed Black culture head on.
After lots of cheaply made indie designer efforts, the Vuitton video began with soaring shots of an Alpine fastness, before segueing into a series of handsome figure skaters and office workers in grand office buildings made principally of green marble. Salary men, nearly all of whom were black.
Like the initial backdrop, the silhouette soared too. For fall 2021, the house’s menswear designer Virgil Abloh wants the Vuitton man to don ankle-length coats, with buttons in the shape of an intercontinental airplane, all topped by looming fedoras or cowboy hats, finished with broad silk bands.
His dapper gentleman leader then carried a silver faux metal empreinte monogram briefcase into the techy office building. Where his colleagues strolled about in many and varied coats – from a gray Crombie made in inside-out in patterns mimicking classical canvas construction; or classic trenches composed in silver-stamped trench coats.
Stand-out looks included: a business suit made in see-through plastic and paired with a bright yellow tote reading 'Tourist V Purist'; or a monogram parka in steely felt wool. And, above all, a series of broken painterly plaids used in kilts, jean jackets and spy coats.
Quite why one chap lay fast asleep against the green marble walls as if nursing a hangover was hard to fathom. Many office workers carried fake newspapers under their arms; with obvious headlines like 'Extra! Extra!,' his CEO circling the lobby reciting out the names of heroes and historical incidences, from Ginsburg and Baldwin to Kennedy and Gandhi or Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Entitled ‘Ebonics/ Snake Oil / The Black Box/ Mirror, Mirror’ the show “investigates the unconscious bias instilled in our collective psyche by the archaic norms of society,” according to the Vuitton show notes. All inspired by James Baldwin’s essay Stranger in the Village about an African-American’s experiences of living in a Swiss hamlet. Abloh’s program even contained a photo of his Ghanaian maternal grandmother, a proud lady in traditional costume called Hellen Adei Ashie. And the latest A to Z from the designer included the following entry on his father Nee Abloh: “he migrated to Rockford, Illinois in 1971 where he was hired by a paint company. Nee taught his son the importance of keeping your head down, working hard and staying persistent.”
Looks like that piece of advice paid off.
Finally getting over the hangover, our lost soul performed a melodramatic dance to jazz, weaving between the cast, before then returning to the Alpine fastness. Back in the lobby, even more fantasy fare – a mink intarsia Aran sweater or an embedded red-and-black felt hussar cavalry jacket.
All the way to the climax with a rush-hour sortie, and two great fantasy jackets. One, a three-dimensional vision of some 20 iconic modern skyscrapers – from the Bank of China in Hong Kong to the Empire State Building in NYC. The other, a gathering of Parisian Renaissance and Haussmann buildings – including the Eiffel Tower, the Pompidou Center and Notre Dame, to whose renovation Vuitton’s parent company LVMH is contributing 100 million euros.
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