Virgil Abloh pays homage to Ghanaian culture in New Louis Vuitton fall/winter 2021 collection
Last week, designer and creative director, Virgil Abloh, set social media ablaze once again by presenting his Fall/Winter 2021 Louis Vuitton Men’s collection in Paris. The new collection titled, “Ebonics”, was accompanied by a short film, “Peculiar Contrast, Perfect Light,” that highlighted spoken word, motion performance, and black empowerment through the lens of menswear. To illustrate his message, Virgil being a Ghanaian-American man, incorporated Kente Cloth to pay homage to his African roots.
Virgil told Vogue Magazine, “When I grew up, my father wore Kente cloth, with nothing beneath it, to family weddings, funerals, graduations,” he said. “When he went to an American wedding, he wore a suit. I merged those two together, celebrating my Ghanaian culture.”
Abloh is not new to exploring his African roots through his work, but some have raised the question of whether the traditional Kente cloth was used in a tasteful manner. Let me give you some context. Kente is a woven, handmade, vibrantly colorful cloth that originates from Ghana. It is heavily associated with the Ashanti tribe located in the Ashanti region of Ghana. To Ghanaians, the cloth and its cultural history are highly valued. In the past, it was reserved for Ashanti royalty, associated with wealth, not easily accessible, and only worn on special occasions. Today it’s a little different. As the production of the cloth has increased, it has become more accessible to the public rather than strictly royals. Today in the United States, it’s used to symbolize African heritage and the print can be seen on shirts, hats, and even your graduation stole. In Ghanaian culture, men wear one piece wrapped around the body leaving their shoulder and hand uncovered.
Now back to Louis Vuitton, I have seen many mixed reviews about this collection in the Ghanaian community. Some love it because, in reality, it puts our country at the forefront. Louis Vuitton is a HUGE European brand. For them to have a creative director who is Ghanaian is a big win for the country as a whole. It shows us Africans that it is possible for us to be in the big creative spaces even when the world says we can’t. On the other hand, some raised the question of whether it was thought out and tastefully done. In reality, the cloth is never worn how it was displayed in the collection. Typically, it is worn with no clothing underneath at all which caused some to take offense to how Ghanaian culture was being displayed especially since the cloth holds such high significance.
To check out the collection in it’s entirety, visit https://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/fall-2021-menswear/louis-vuitton