Virgil Abloh Introduces the 'Upcycling Ideology' for Louis Vuitton Men's Shanghai Show

Virgil Abloh Introduces the 'Upcycling Ideology' for Louis Vuitton Men's Shanghai Show

Virgil Abloh Introduces the 'Upcycling Ideology' for Louis Vuitton Men's Shanghai Show

The parade-esque show is playful, colorful, and blessed with musical talent — all while being serious about manifesting the Black imagination.

The parade-esque show is playful, colorful, and blessed with musical talent — all while being serious about manifesting the Black imagination.

Text: Hailee Milton

Today, on a gloomy day near the water in Shanghai, Virgil Abloh debuted the future format for his shows to come — as Louis Vuitton proved work can be recycled, upcycled, and reissued in its original form. And while the blurred months of quarantine have made it hard to grasp any sense of time, with the limitations of travel, mandated mass-gatherings, and all-around lack of normalcy, it brought some clarity to the Louis Vuitton Men’s Artistic Director. 

In a conversation with WWD, Abloh shared, “We as humans want new things, we always want to go forward; the newest, the fastest, shiniest things… [But] if my collection I debuted in January I believed in, by the time it gets to July, I still believe in it. It’s not that it’s so old that it can’t be seen ever again. I’m questioning that system by proposing that my collections are all as one.” With that said, Abloh has introduced the Upcycling Ideology for Louis Vuitton, where upcycle looks from prior collections are combined with new looks. Since previous seasons no longer exist as individual entities, the unified Spring-Summer 2021 collection is comprised of 30 looks from Louis Vuitton Men’s collection by Virgil Abloh Spring-Summer 2021 ‘Upcycling Ideology’ Paris, August 2020. 2 looks made from entirely new material. 25 looks made from recycled material. And the remanding 25 looks from the previous collection, reshown in a new light.

In debuting this new format, the Louis Vuitton Men's show was set amongst cargo shipping containers, painted with Louis Vuitton logos, and decorated by "Zoooom with friends" inflatable characters. As the fanatical and fashionable show started, the ensembles slowly gained vibrancy, making a switch from monotone to brighter color palettes, which included paying homage to Abloh's West African heritage through the colors of the Ghanian flag. The presentation was helpfully divided between collections in imaginative ways. For example, crew members dressed in blue Louis Vuitton outfits held floating clouds, where the next collection was commenced by a dragon weaving down the length of the runway, and then a parade of large inflatable floats to introduce the next. In other words, it was noticeable when something was about to change.

The reconditioned pieces are distinguishable by looking closely for the Upcycling Singal Logo, LV's new emblem that represents the combination of "old" and new value. And Ms. Lauryn Hill's recognizable voice can be heard from a pre-recorded video projected from inside one of the shipping containers, as models walk to the beat of the music. A fun trend included the 3-D puppets, which were attached like oversized brooches to the left sides of garments, or patches, or shapes for specific bags. As the engaging show came to an end, the multitalented Chinese-Canadian actor, Kris Wu gave a head-turning finale as he closed the runway while wearing a white tailored suit jacket and an LV wolf inflatable larger than himself, attached to his side. As Virgil continues to receive kudos for his extraordinary presentation, it is important to note that we witnessed today goes far beyond a musical performance or fashion show.

This display of innovation serves as a liberating creative experience, and as Virgil reiterated in an Instagram post, his intention is to make this an opportunity achievable for all Black men and women around the world. With what he refers to as the "Black imagination manifesting itself in real life," on behalf of Ms. Lauryn Hill's performance, Virgil and Louis Vuitton have made a donation to the MLH Foundation in addition to starting the "Post-Modern" scholarship fund, which will be managed in partnership with the Fashion Scholarship Fund. All of the proceeds will directly benefit Black fashion students and Black businesses affected by COVID-19 or other hardships. In his sentiment, he leaves us with, "What you witnessed is a sign of more to come." It is clear Virgil and Louis Vuitton are taking us towards the future of design. To join, start by watching Louis Vuitton's Men's Spring-Summer 2021 Shanghai show, here and see the official recap of looks below.

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