Last month Virgil Abloh took to Shanghai to debut Louis Vuitton‘s Spring/Summer 2021 collection, but it wasn’t the clothes that got all the attention.
Walter Van Beirendonck, the famous Belgian designer, accused Abloh of plagiarism and appropriation. On Augst 6, just a day after the show Van Beirendonck posted an image of one of his own designs, a shirt with the words “I HATE FASHION COPYCATS” appliquéd on the front.
Then he compared a new piece debuted at the Louis Vuitton men’s show to another of his designs, from a 2016 collection. While each suit is different colors, they are similar as they both have a small figurine sewed to the front of the jacket.
He later deleted the post, but the internet never forgets anything.
The idea of plagiarism in most art mediums is common because of how easy it is to get inspiration from other’s work to help inspire something even better.
Beirendonck even acknowledged that fact in an interview, but thinks what Abloh did was too apparent and a complete ripoff.
“Copying is nothing new. It’s part of fashion. But not like this. Not on that level, with their budgets, their teams, their possibilities,” he said, referring to Louis Vuitton. “That’s what is shocking to me. It’s very clear that Virgil Abloh is not a designer,” Mr. Van Beirendonck continued. “He has no language of his own, no vision. He can’t create something of his own season after season and that is painful.”
Abloh decided to respond to the controversy in the show’s notes, explaining his true inspiration behind the puppets on the suits.
“Shopping for his children in a toy store in Paris in January 2020, he caught a glimpse of himself in a mirror, mirror, his pockets stuffed with puppets of all shapes and colours,” the manifesto explains. “They made him think of the carved masks, figurines and dolls he knew from Ghana, and references he recognised from the Louis Vuitton genetics: a teddy bear designed by Marc Jacobs for the Spring-Summer 2005 Men’s collection, and the Maroquinaris Zoologicae series of small leather goods created for the house by Billie Achilleos in 2011.”
Van Beirendonck has yet to respond.
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