Unpacking Louis Vuitton’s Cryptic Trunk Show Format

Today in its Paris Men’s Fashion Week Online slot, Louis Vuitton screened a short film. Entitled ‘Zoooom with Friends’, the colorful caper mixes live action with animated Manga-like characters. It involves classic Vuitton paraphernalia being packed up into shipping containers, driven past famous Paris landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Pompidou Centre and Louvre Museum, trundled onto a barge and floated down the Seine River.

We already knew that we weren’t going to be seeing the actual men’s spring ’21 collection, ‘Message in a Bottle,’ as Louis Vuitton had already communicated that it would take place initially on Aug. 6 in Shanghai and then continue to various global locations such as Tokyo.

We also knew that the collection would introduce a sustainability initiative involving recycling and upcycling plus reissues of previous pieces. The rest, however, was a game of Chinese Whispers. Pun intended.

Happily, this afternoon, the brand issued FN with a statement to clarify.

The spring ’21 collection will be presented via a voyage of international events from Paris to Shanghai and Tokyo. These will be unveiled gradually in chapters starting in July and continuing through the end of 2020.

In the spirit of a magical mystery tour, Abloh is retaining the option to add extra destinations as he goes.

Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton spring ’21 show teaser visual.
CREDIT: Louis Vuitton

The collection too will be subject to change. According to the brand’s statement, “it is a free and inclusive dialogue between the house and its audiences” which “will transform in an evolving exchange across cultures and nations” throughout its voyage. So basically the clothes and accessories presented will be adapted according to the culture and locality of each destination.

It will also “transcend the traditional rules of fashion and seasonality,” which would appear to mean that although it is nominally spring ’21, we needed construe ‘spring’ too strictly.

This format, they said “demonstrates Louis Vuitton Men’s artistic director Virgil Abloh’s core values of diversity, inclusivity and unity.” Moreover, “by taking his show to sea, Virgil Abloh embraces the global community of Louis Vuitton and meets his clients in their own parts of the world.”

Now for some notes on the film, the non animated constituents of which were shot the at the Louis Vuitton Maison de Famille in Asnières (just outside of Paris) which is the ancestral home of the house’s founder.

Louis Vuitton movie still
Louis Vuitton spring ’21 movie still.
CREDIT: Louis Vuitton

Turns out that the colorful crew of animated characters on board are actually stowaways and according to the brand will “come to life in the collection” when its first incarnation is unveiled in Shanghai. The collection, they say, “explores Virgil Abloh’s ongoing theme of boyhood: seeing the world through the eyes of a child.”

Hazarding a guess, we are imagining the signature Louis Vuitton monogram print with cartoon overlays.

As for the sustainability aspect, the house elaborated as follows. “The collection is founded in four methods of upcycling: new looks made from recycled material, looks repeated from the Fall-Winter 2020 collection, looks freely created by the studio during the lockdown using recycled material, and new looks created from existing ideas. These principles set the premise for the evolution of the collection.”

A model presents a creation from the Fall/ Winter 2020/2021 men's collection by US designer Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton fashion house during the Paris Fashion Week, in Paris, France, 16 January 2020. The presentation of the men's collections runs from 14 to 19 January.Louis Vuitton - Runway - Paris Men's Fashion Week F/W 2020/21, France - 16 Jan 2020
Louis Vuitton – Runway – Paris Men’s Fashion Week F/W 2020/21, France – 16 Jan 2020

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