Friday 7th August

| BY Paul Toner

Louis Vuitton: Menswear SS21

And we’re back! A proper fashion show, at last. Set against a backdrop of LV-stamped shipping containers plonked along a gloomy Shanghai riverbank, Virgil Abloh finally revealed his Louis Vuitton SS21 collection. Whilst the digital shows have been great and all, to finally see actual models sauntering down the catwalk with a jam-packed, mostly mask-less audience, felt like nothing had ever changed. A taste for a time before. Yet here we were, watching it through a screen thousands of miles away from the actual show, and we weren’t the only ones missing out on the action. Abloh styled the collection with Ib Kamara prematurely, sending each completed look off to the city without ever heading there themselves. This was a process teased back in July with a kaleidoscopic animation which featured a lovable gang of cartoon musicians, which kick-started the show’s story during Digital Paris Men’s Fashion Week.

The clothes arrived there safely, as did the dancing dragons, guitar-playing lions and the frogs who like to the drum – some part of the looks, other supersized into floats. This season Abloh created an “Upcycling Ideology.” Splitting the show into two halves, the first round of looks was last season’s cloud-covered fashions, debuted in Paris back in January. Next was 30 new looks, in which 25 were made from recycled materials. This collection was fearless, brash and totally in your face – in the best possible way. Strong shouldered-suiting in full proportions reigned supreme, equipped with clown-like lapels. Each came block-coloured in vivid, primary colours, or coated in a trippy iteration of the house’s classic Damier check. Totally mad when paired with a series of wonky sunglasses.

Soundtracked to an archive live performance from Lauryn Hill, different creatures attached to each look danced along to the classic “Doo-Wop (That Thing)”. Our Executive Fashion Director Garth Spencer noted these looks resembled when you were a kid and clung onto your favourite cuddly toy wherever you went. These child-like sensibilities felt like Abloh’s answer for escaping the dark clouds that loom over life as we currently know it. But the esteemed designer isn’t interested in pretending the injustices of the world do not exist.

Alongside the show notes, Abloh penned a manifesto for Louis Vuitton moving forward.”As we collectively resurge, consider this my manifesto: as a presence of colour within the fashion establishment, I commit to inclusivity, unity, diversity, and individuality,” he wrote. “I will continue to employ diverse candidates, financially support BIPOC and LGBTQ+ causes, shed light on businesses owned by BIPOC and LGBTQ+ individuals, work on public-facing initiatives that showcase BIPOC and LGBTQ+ role models, and assist organisations that promote more inclusive workforces.”

After the lights went out and the guests went about their daily lives, the collection was packed up and sent to Tokyo, where it will be shown in its final iteration this September. What exactly will that entail, you ask? We wouldn’t want to spoil the ending now…