Louis Vuitton Men’s Fall-Winter 2021

‘Ebonics / Snake Oil / The Black Box / Mirror, Mirror

Click here to watch the Louis Vuitton Men’s Fall-Winter 2021 Show

“This world is white no longer, and it will never be white again” writes James Baldwin in his 1955 essay “Stranger in the Village”, which shows the symmetry between European and American racism while setting a perspective on Black Americans’ incredibly unique position in society. Written 66 years ago, in which 92 years before that the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, most of Baldwin’s lived experiences and written ideas can be summarized as follows: Black people living in America “is a form of insanity which overtakes white men”. 

Taken from the Louis Vuitton Official Website

As referenced in Virgil Abloh’s shownotes for his Fall-Winter 2021 collection, this essay marks an empirical observation about racism from Baldwin’s generation to now. What can catalyze Black people’s existence in this world? Why do we have subconscious biases? The show interprets these questions into a prelude and three acts–further delving questions themselves, answered through a series of performance art and stylistic techniques that embark on a journey of Black self-reflection and realization. 

Click here to take a look at Virgil Abloh’s shownotes from the FW 2021 collection.

Abloh tackles our perceptions of each other through pre-imposed archetypes: that we are always looking to identify and categorize ourselves, and that wardrobe is what helps us determine that–it’s our uniform. What you wear is what people see first (as is, one’s skin color and gender per Baldwin), and deconstructing that helps to rid the world of assumptions we have of one another to blur the line of what we see as normalcy. What is a ‘new normal’ and why is it important? Can we answer these questions that Abloh poses, or are these just idealized versions of the world that can’t be imposed without completely dismantling the ways of living we have today?

The show features American musician, poet & actor Saul Williams and Yasiin Bey (better known as Mos Def), both of whom’s performances help to conglomerate the complex emotions and experiences of the Black individuals’ position in the world. 

Taken from the Louis Vuitton Official Website

“Who wants to look normal?”

As is with anything, our instinctual need to categorize and deduct our own individual existences is not an exercise of individuality, it’s othering. It is soft to assume that because we judge one another, it’s only “natural”. It was human deduction that resulted in the deaths of George Floyd and Daunte Wright. The history behind this tradition of deduction in the American context needs to be discussed–American deduction as an excuse for normality is far more dangerous than when applied anywhere else in the world. In reference to Baldwin, his experience in Switzerland was, in the eye of the Swiss man, deduced to exoticism. In America his experience is deduced to one of many things that all stem from the propagated white fear that Black people are demonically inhuman. 

Our perception of ‘normal’ is a white perception of normal. When was the last time you read an essay written in Ebonics? The very words you are reading have been chosen, revised, and implemented into modern American education that dictates the way we speak and write to denote credibility–the White Western Habitus. Abloh covers this on a macro level, arguing that fashion can redefine conformity, as being a “choice open to all”, then liberating ourselves to have the ability to rebel. The clothing from the collection itself ties into concepts of illusion, and “replicating the familiar through the deceptive lenses of trompe l’oeil [trick of the eye] and filtrage [filtration]”. 

Taken from the Louis Vuitton Official Website

When applied to the newly codified term “the new normal” which, as Abloh defines, grew out of the global events of 2020 to describe an unknown concept of what the future looks like, we can conclude that people of color no longer want white people to dictate this future. You can see this in the stylistic choices made by Abloh–the Paris skyline puffer jacket, kente cloth wrap, and double-faced wool peignoir tackle these ideas as well as the concept of ownership. Bags with everyday items such as pens and rulers and Louis Vuitton cups, all of which aren’t “owned” by anyone as having invented it, are used as a nod to the common critique of “stolen” intellectual property. All of these tackling ideas of normalcy as transitioning into rebellion.

Taken from the Louis Vuitton Official Website

“I, without a thought of conquest, find myself among a people whose culture controls me, has even, in a sense, created me, people who have cost me more in anguish and rage than they will ever know, who yet do not even know of my existence.”

– James Baldwin, “Stranger in the Village”, 1955.

In your everyday suburban town, there is a person who believes that oversized jeans and gold chains make you look like a “gangster”–do we forget that fashion has always dictated intra-social segregation? An analysis of racism through the lens of fashion is not unique nor will it ever leave a topic of conversation so long as white supremacy dictates it. It’s for this same reason that throughout history there have been and still exist certain dress codes for certain occasions. In today’s society, clothes are just an enhanced medium for judgement beyond skin-color. Unfortunately so, skin color dictates our perceptions of one another just as much as rain grows the food we eat. As Abloh states, “Provenance is reality, while ownership is myth”.

Skating Tree Town – Valerie Le

Skating Tree Town by Valerie Le is a publication that chronicles Ann Arbor’s rich skateboarding history and culture. Using visual design, photography, interviews, and historical archives, this book attempts to synthesize Ann Arbor skate culture and its community for skaters and readers to enjoy. All sales proceeds will be donated to All Girls Skate, an Ann Arbor Skatepark initiative that gives instruction to young female skaters of all experience levels in a welcoming environment. – Valerie Le

You can purchase Skating Tree Town on Valerie’s website and at Olympia Skate Shop (1145 W Michigan Ave #5124, Ypsilanti, MI 48197) as of April 15th.

SCARBO X Fiendigods – FREEMASON$ Official Music Video

An amusing musical short film with local rap duo Fiendigods

“Fiendi got the critics raving” as a direct line from Youngsinsei’s verse in new single “FREEMASON$”. Better known as up-and-coming drummer and rap musician David Ward, he and emerging rapper Evan Parks make up the duo Fiendigods. We teamed up with these Ypsilanti-based artists to help produce the official music video for their single and talk about the meaning behind the song.

Q: So first off, why Freemasons?

David: “Who even really knows what the Freemasons are? People say they’re the Illuminati, but the Freemasons say ‘no, we’re not, we just like books and are friends and that’s it’. And I think there’s a lot of intriguing stuff there. There’s a lot of talk about how to turn the tables, but if all of that information is out there for everyone to know, then someone can use that to mess you up. Simply going about your business, isn’t for anyone else to know… it’s just you and your business partners.”

What does “FREEMASON$” mean to you?

Evan: “‘FREEMASON$’, to me, is about us being ourselves to the absolute fullest. We’re feeling ourselves and being authentic–some people probably won’t like that, and that’s to be expected. We pay them no mind, and that’s what the Fiends do. We make music and express ourselves truthfully and naturally regardless of what people say.”

David: “[In ‘FREEMASON$’], I want to shed light on the fact that there are rappers out in the public eye who are opening up more and more about their individual journeys to spiritual enlightenment, and that it’s not a coincidence. We’re saying you can be yourself, and the more you know yourself, the less you care about what other people think.”

Brothers of Destruction drops May 1st, 2021 on all streaming platforms.

City Girl Sentimentalism

Warning: SPOILERS.

When I first saw Westworld, the first season was the only season available for streaming on HBO. Back then, I made it to the third episode before boredom consumed me and my need for plot materiality got the best of me. Flash forward three years, and quarantine meant that I could finish the series in just 5 days–and I did. Jonathan Nolan’s captivating rebuild of the 1973 movie of the same name takes futurism into an entirely new genre. As the series focuses on Delores, one of several hundred android “hosts” in a massive and immersive theme park located somewhere in China, the storyline shifts into themes of existentialism, liberation, and full-on dystopian maelstrom.

Once finishing season 3, I couldn’t get Westworld out of my mind. What took me past the central question of “what makes us human?” was the realization that this series is not too far off from the future. In fact, I would have been only 53 years old when Maeve made her brave escape and re-escape from Delos headquarters, which made me think “how far are we from achieving the reality Nolan creates so effortlessly”. I like to call this “subtle futurism”: in which science fiction applies itself to the near future. The technology is close enough to our own that we can easily place ourselves in the story’s environment. Applying this to my medium of fashion photography brought me to “City Girl Sentimentalism”, my take on Westworld and fashion in the now, as opposed to the future.

“City Girl Sentimentalism”, an octet for winds and percussion written by Shuhei Tamura, contains the futuristic allure that Westworld sells. The piece begins amazingly groovy, composed of several distinct melodious sections that exchange motifs, painting a scene of the subject’s daydream wandering through her old neighborhoods. Merging the tonalities of Jazz music with elements of classical, Tamura writes, in music, the subtle futurism that Nolan explores. Featured in the images is Olivia Johnson, a city girl herself. With each passing tableaux, the mood grows more collected, more sentimental. Images of cities appear as she mentally places herself back in her environment.

– Jacob Ward

SCARBO does not own the rights to any music or titles represented in this post.

Passion, Photography, and Katie Corbett

Katie Corbett is a student and photographer currently pursuing a Spanish and Global Health and Environment focus in the International Studies department at the University of Michigan.

“Photography has been a constant throughout my college experience and has helped me connect with creatives in the fashion industry. Looking forward, I hope to continue pursuing passion projects that incorporate photography.”

Take a scroll to see some of her work.

All images provided by Katie Corbett.

Patrick Kelly (1954-1990)

A reminder that we must always honor Black triumphs throughout history, not just solely in the month of February.

Imagine for a second, you wake up and it’s Paris in 1981. After making your duvet, un petit déjeuner, and enjoying un café that your partner made for you, you make your way out down la Rue Madame and head to Victoire, the high-end boutique that has your new collection on sale. You’re Patrick Kelly, and this collection led you to become one of the most prominent figures in 80’s fashion. 

Born in 1954 in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Kelly rapidly ascended to become a pioneer of ready-to-wear fashion. He is known for his trademark miss-matched buttons, minstrel logo and Black pop culture references used throughout his collections. He hustled to become the first American and Black member of the French organization la Chambre Syndicale du Prêt-á-porter, the governing body of the French fashion industry.

Kelly attended Jackson State University for two years, subsequently moving to Atlanta and making ends meet through volunteer work designing window displays for an Yves Saint Laurent boutique. One year after transferring into the Parsons School of Design in New York City, he moved to Paris to pursue his dream of becoming a designer.

His early days in Paris were spent making coats for a small, but ever-expanding portfolio of clients. It wasn’t long until he was introduced to Francoise Chassagnac, a prominent buyer for local boutique Victoire, and mentor to Kelly throughout his career. Chassagnac was so impressed by Kelly’s bright colors and meticulous detailing that she loaned him a workspace and funded the creation of his first collection, “Patrick Kelly in Paris”. The collection was so successful that it landed him a feature in French magazine Elle. It wasn’t long until Patrick Kelly-labelled dresses were selling for $10,000 on 5th Avenue and abroad. His brand grew to international acclaim, hosting distributors from France to Japan. He was adamant about keeping his clothing affordable to all working people, with prices ranging from $35 to the tens-of-thousands. Kelly’s signature logo, a minstrel, was so under-fire that many U.S. stores refused to sell his clothing with the logo. His message was to reclaim previous racist imagery in order to progress.

Unfortunately, Patrick Kelly passed away in 1990 due to complications from living with AIDS. His legacy is still maintained today, as Black designers such as Virgil Abloh and Telfar Clemens sustain the importance of Black culture in their respective work.

Images taken from Google.

Evan Parness’ Creative Flow

“My art making is mostly fueled by an incessant drive to follow through with whatever creative thought I feel inspired by”. Meet Evan Parness, photographer and current Creative Director of SHEI Magazine.

“The more I say yes to an idea, even when rough and unpolished, the more freedom I find in its ultimate creative expression.” I’ll try to push everything beyond what I’ve tried before, and am always motivated and inspired when collaborating with others who share a similar vision or passion for creating”. His focus when shooting lies in the composition of the image (or, arranging elements of the image to express the goal of the photo).

“Framing is the truest way to articulate your perspective as the creator of your work. Additionally, I’ll try to focus on the expressiveness of the subject, wanting something that feels genuine to them and present in the moment I’m shooting. My favorite work has come from capturing the feeling of something more so than the aesthetic, when it can resonate or make you think about others or yourself or the world around us beyond what’s in frame”.

“The more I say yes to an idea, even when rough and unpolished, the more freedom I find in its ultimate creative expression.”

All images provided at the permission of Evan Parness

Emily Considine, Storyteller

“I want to tell stories, but not necessarily in the literary sense—” Emily Considine is an artist and graphic designer from California. “I feel deeply that narratives and stories are how many people learn to understand each other and emotionally communicate. Drawing comics, cartoons, and illustrated images that feel like snapshots of stories are a way for me to process and express complex emotions or thoughts without having to figure out how to communicate them through words, which feel limiting to me on their own”. Her work focuses on reality–”they usually have some kind of surreal element — but I want the images to feel grounded despite that. Like a place that someone could touch or feel themselves in without it being literally realistic”.

Featured: Gabrielle Mack

 “I love the making process as a whole”, photographer Gabrielle Mack explores the relationships that develop between her and the subject during her shooting process. “Finding a way to bring something to fruition from the very beginning is always a form of exploration”. Shooting film, she says, allows her to maintain an intimate proximity with her images.

All images featured provided by Gabrielle Mack.