For Travelers, Consider Virgil Abloh-Designed Luggage That Reimagines Louis Vuitton’s Legacy
On the second day of Artmas, we honor two legends who reinvented luxury while bridging the worlds of art and design.
Welcome to The 12 Days of Artmas, our new, non-denominational holiday extravaganza—an advent calendar with gift ideas and stories for art lovers of all stripes, dropping daily through December 24.
At the age of 13, Louis Vuitton left his French Jura village and traveled on foot to Paris, where he apprenticed for a master trunk maker. In 1854, Vuitton opened his own trunk-making Maison amid the haute couture houses in the Place Vendôme. By the end of the decade, he had introduced a waterproof canvas and a flat-lid trunk, essentially reinventing the industry. His name—and his monogrammed initials—would become synonymous with luxury.
This year, to honor the 200th birthday of its founder, the fashion and leather goods house—cornerstone of luxury giant LVMH—has been looking to the art world, tapping Beeple to create NFTs for a video game based on the life of Vuitton while commissioning a yet-to-be-unveiled triptych from American artist Alex Katz. It has also given 200 creative visionaries (American architect Peter Marino and British makeup artist Pat McGrath among them) carte blanche to re-imagine its iconic travel trunk for Louis Vuitton store windows, to be sold at auction in 2022.
Of course, with Virgil Abloh as men’s artistic director, it did not have to look very far for vision. Born outside of Chicago to Ghanaian parents, also the founder of Off-White and formerly creative director for Kanye West, the artist, designer, D.J., and boundary-pushing polymath passed away two weeks ago after a private battle with cancer and a lifelong, street-wise hustle that helped transform the fashion and design industries while turning the concept of luxury on its head.
With his Fall-Winter 2021 Louis Vuitton Men’s collection, informed by the 1953 essay “Stranger in the Village,” in which James Baldwin related his experiences as a Black man visiting a Swiss village to the African-American experience, Abloh meditated on the idea of tourism, and not only as a multibillion-dollar industry. As stated in his show notes, “it indicates the naivety and bravery of a literal and exploratory approach to something.” It also speaks to the insider-outsider status that drove him as well as a young Vuitton.
For the collection, Abloh elevated the likes of potato sacks with tuffetage embroidery while reinterpreting classic Louis Vuitton styles, creating everything from a trunk-like PVC shopping trolley to Monogram bags overlaid with aphoristic Lawrence Weiner patterns (e.g., “SOMEWHERE SOMEHOW”) to a leather duffel that takes the shape of an airplane. As he said to Artnet News after joining Louis Vuitton in 2018, becoming the first Black man to lead a department at the company, “Aspiration is the halo which I’m able to dissect and create works of art with.”
Below, see more luggage looks from the Fall-Winter 2021 Louis Vuitton Men’s collection by Virgil Abloh.
Luggage available in select Louis Vuitton stores. Prices upon request.
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