A 47-page document that accompanied the release of Virgil Abloh’s latest Louis Vuitton fashion film laid out the designer’s intent behind his spring/summer 2022 menswear collection—looking to the musical practice of sampling to create newness out of something familiar, and to recontextualise existing cultures and subcultures. He did this through a clever and expansive play on juxtapositions—between the formal and the street, day and night, and menswear vs womenswear (the collection had almost as many skirts, dresses and kilts as it did trousers).
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To focus a collection this wide in scope, Abloh took chess as his starting point—a natural fit, as the graphic quality of a black-and-white chessboard ties in neatly with the House’s Damier motif. But chess as a game of oppositions is also aligned with Abloh’s exploration of juxtapositions—inspiring the contrasts between the collection’s fantastical silhouettes (elongated by towering hats and billowing bottoms) against its more classical suiting, and between the eye-grabbing colours and the sober blacks and greys. The suit and the tracksuit—emblems of the “formal” and the “street”, respectively—have been remixed and hybridised here to such a degree that they have become indistinguishable, a new category almost.
These hybrids were a nod to rave culture, another one of Abloh’s touchpoints for this collection. The searing colours he used here were inspired by rave, as were some of the surface adornments—replications of 90s rave flyers woven into nylon jackets, patchworked onto cotton shirts, and printed on leathers. Abloh also referenced Japanese and Chinese martial arts in the collection. Fierce but also graceful, the uniforms of these combat practices informed the collection’s belted jackets tied at the waist, the fluid trousers split at the sides, and the padded puffer vests that evoked chest guards.
The collection’s hats were a standout; Abloh and stylist, Ibrahim Kamara, accessorised almost every look with a statement topper—giant fuzzy ones with built-in earmuffs, tall ones inspired by the shapes of chess figures, baseball caps with embroideries and exotic-skin visors, berets pinned with brooches and flags, crochet bucket hats. But the most newsmaking moment came in the form of a Nike collaboration, with Abloh reworking the iconic Nike Air Force 1 sneakers in 21 colourways, complete with a monogram-embossed trunk with a swoosh tag in which to house them.
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