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How Virgil Abloh plans to revolutionize Louis Vuitton shows

A new model that includes shows around the world without seasons

How Virgil Abloh plans to revolutionize Louis Vuitton shows A new model that includes shows around the world without seasons

There was a period, coinciding with the early stages of the reopening in Italy, when numerous fashion houses, Gucci in the lead, announced historic changes in the show's calendars and their production policies – changes that highlighted the impression of complete chaos that reigns in the fashion world. Amid all the reformist fervour, the silence of the LVMH group's brands had appeared significant: but that silence has now ended.

Michael Burke and Virgil Abloh, respectively CEO and creative director of Louis Vuitton, announced in a long press conference a series of substantial changes that will involve the schedule and the way in which the brand will present its collections and that could affect, in a trickle-down effect, all the previous traditions of the fashion system. 

The main novelty that will be introduced will concern the fashion shows of the brand, which will leave Paris and, with it, the very concept of the traditional fashion show. The brand's SS21 men's collection will inaugurate a decentralized and seasonless model of physical fashion shows, articulated in several successive fashion shows in different locations, a real-world tour that will start on August 6 in Shanghai and continue in Tokyo on a date that is not yet specified, with possible additional dates that will be announced between the summer and the end of the year. The choice to leave from China and Japan, as already made for the tour organized for the launch of the 7 Moncler Fragment Hiroshi Fujiwara collection, is dictated by the ever-increasing importance that the two countries have assumed for the luxury market in the post-Covid world. The brand's CEO, Michael Burke, explained:

We know people are not going to be able to travel, so let’s not have people travel to the venues — let’s have the clothes travel to the venues. 

The shows will be open to the public and broadcast live and will have as a prelude a short-movie that mixes animation and live-action directed by Reggieknow and music by the hip-hop trio The Sa-Ra Creative Partners that will be shown tomorrow in Paris for the digital fashion week. The short film follows the departure and preparation of the Louis Vuitton suitcases, from the founder's house in Asnieres, boarded a barge, which sailed on the Seine leaving the city. On it, are hidden the animated characters of the short called "Zoooom with friends". Here's how Abloh described the new concept: 

My shows will now travel the world, the beginning and ends of season won’t be on the invite,” he said. “It’s one continuous flow that has a little bit of new and some things you’ve seen before. And philosophically, when it comes to the sustainability idea, I’m starting to collapse all the seasons into one. [...] Today, [the traditional model] is totally antiquated. With the Internet, everybody can see it simultaneously, so why does it have to be only in one city?

The Shanghai event, for example, will be organized by the Chinese division of the brand in collaboration with Virgil Abloh, and since the team that will organize and produce it will be Chinese, with a casting of Chinese models, the new format of the travelling show will be much more site-specific and inclusive than in the past: the Shanghai fashion show, for example, will be tailored to the needs and expectations of the Chinese market, as well as the Tokyo team will be designed entirely by the Japanese team and so on. "A much more modern way of working," commented Burke. 

There will also be some design innovations. The Shanghai show will feature new looks made from recycled materials, revisited looks from the Fall-Winter 2020 collection, looks freely created by the studio during lockdown, using recycled material, and new looks created by pre-existing ideas. Some of the existing designs will be replicated in different fabrics and from surplus stock. In the new garments, a new Louis Vuitton logo, the Upcycling Signal Logo, will also be introduced – effectively marking the synthesis between aesthetics and politics of a brand. The changes that will be seen will also be influenced by the way the new collection was designed – that is, digitally, via video-call among the members of the design team. It is unclear what the effects of the change will be in practice, but according to Abloh he said, they will be clearly visible: «The collection is now designed with the idea of it being broadcast on hundreds of thousands of screens, so that’s having an effect on the clothes.». 

And although the effects of coronavirus and lockdown have forced a reinterpretation of traditional dress codes, with less emphasis placed on the more sartorial and flailing plan of clothes, Abloh will continue his progressive work of rethinking the luxury categories, still insisting on the concept of "death of streetwear" enunciated for the first time at the end of last year: 

I want to urge the industry not to just focus on easy-to-sell garments that we know work commercially. The Nigo collection is a perfect example. We made a collection of tailoring that was useful. It wasn’t your dad’s suit, but it had traits more toward that. 

In the last few hours, the brand has unveiled a short movie that works as a prelude to the official presentation of the SS21 collection - entitled Message In A Bottle - which will be officially unveiled in Shanghai. The protagonists of the video, Zoooom with Friends, arrive in Paris for five intense days, sailing along the Seine leaving behind a rainbow trace to colour the sky of the French city. The video, directed by Abloh himself, animated by Reggie Know, and with a soundtrack curated by Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner, Terrace Martine and Kamasi Washington, is a fun, dreamlike and sometimes psychedelic dive into an imaginary populated by icons and symbols of the Maison, which manages to unite real and virtual in an unprecedented way.