In 1953, James Baldwin wrote an essay entitled “Stranger in the Village.” In it, he detailed his experiences as a Black visitor to a small town in Switzerland that had, he wagers, never seen a Black person before. In 2021, Virgil Abloh — the first Black creative director at Louis Vuitton — used that essay as inspiration for his Fall 2021 menswear collection for the house.
The line was presented in the form of a video that had performance art, spoken word, music and models walking (and ice-skating) through scenes that included a snowy outdoor landscape and a green marble-filled interior. In the accompanying show notes — which went on for a lengthy 36 pages — Abloh included manifestos, paper dolls featuring a few looks from the collection, a picture of his maternal grandmother in Ghana, thoughts on the inclusion of upcycled pieces and the “vocabulary according to Virgil Abloh,” which defined everything from clothing construction techniques to artistic terminology.
“Within my practice, I strive to document and preserve the black canon and enlighten my global audiences [sic],” the designer wrote.
The collection itself featured a combination of classic design elements and more boundary-pushing ones. There was plenty of suiting and the eye-catching accessories one would expect from Louis Vuitton, including metal-tipped shoes and a mirrored bag covered with the LV logo. Much of the line was rendered in kelly green, and gender lines blurred with men wearing skirts and tight over-the-elbow leather gloves. Planes showed up as recurring motifs, and while much of the collection was very wearable, there were also more conceptual pieces, two jackets shaped to look like skylines complete with 3D skyscrapers — one representing Chicago, where Abloh grew up, and the other representing Paris, where he now resides.
See the full Louis Vuitton men’s Fall 2021 collection in the gallery below.