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.

Artist Feature: Nolan Feeny

We caught up with rising artist Nolan Feeny to touch base on his new release, composition process, the current streaming landscape, and more. Keep reading to learn more.

Nolan Feeny’s latest release, dreamers

WHO:

Who am I? I don’t really know. I guess I’m just someone that wants to enjoy life and be a catalyst for others to do so as well, be it through engineering or music or whatever. I am definitely super passionate about music though, started playing cello and piano when I was about 4 or 5, and got more into making my own songs during college. I’ve always had abstract ideas in mind, some stuff on Soundcloud from a couple years ago, but only recently have they been more finalized and concrete. I recently graduated last May, now I’m staying for graduate school at University of Michigan.

MUSIC IN QUARANTINE:

I knew some big social ceremonies like commencement would be cancelled, and that gave me drive to want to do something in place of that, something else that could be symbolic for that transition of my life. I think having less social interaction has also enabled me to put more of my focus into making music and practicing. I just felt like I had more time during quarantine.

COMPOSITION PROCESS:

I think it always starts with inspiration from other artists for me. I really like Bon Iver’s vocals, and some Sufjan songs with a girl also singing the melody. Really nice texture that I wanted to recreate. With dreamers I was fiddling with the guitar one day and came up with 3 finger-picked chords that I liked, and instantly had a melody come to mind, so I recorded it on my phone. When I started actually recording it on my computer, I started imagining other fill sounds to make it come alive more, like little fairy dust piano, an additional echoed guitar, a shaker, other vocals. I think a lot of that is inspired by other artists. For me, all of the music I’ve made so far represents how I feel and who I am. I might experiment with taking a persona that isn’t me on future projects though.

ON “DREAMERS”:

I think to me it’s about relationships that end and leave an empty space — how that can lead to feeling alone but also becoming more comfortable with oneself, growth into the unknown, but can definitely mean different things to different people.

ON THE STREAMING LANDSCAPE:

I think for the most part streaming is a really good thing, everything is so accessible and shareable. I’m new and small as an artist so I don’t know all the details, and it can feel daunting at times but overall I think it’s promising. I’ve thought about buying advertising space on social media platforms, I might set aside some budget to do that. Maybe for the next album release. I think if I ever got in the studio or performed with any of my big inspirations, I would feel complete as a musician.

GIGS & UPDATES:

I have a virtual gig with Empty Mug Records coming up on March 26th. also working on another album that’s outside of the genre I’ve been in. I also have a very clear outline for a music video that I want to shoot, which hopefully I can do in the next month or so.

Make sure to stay tuned for more artist features soon, and check out Nolan Feeny on Instagram and on your preferred streaming service of choice.

Bryan Wilson – 1-derful beauty

Artwork by University of Michigan Art and Design Student Bryan Wilson (@bryn art)

“My name is Bryan Wilson and I am a realistic oil painter and digital artist. My art represents my experiences and the people who surround me.”

“My artistic process starts with the creation of a concept and creating sketches based on that concept. Once I create these sketches I would select the sketch I like the most and further develop that sketch and eventually turning the developed sketch into a finished composition.”

“My goal as an artist are to inspire people who aspire to be artist and enter a creative field. I also hope to be able to be able to support myself and be able to create freely.”

Bryan along with oil paintings, has taken his artwork to merchandise design. He currently has items available for purchase on his website that can be found at www.bcwarts.com

Editor’s Picks – New Playlist featuring Nolan Feeny, GVO, George Marshall, and more.

Feeling blue this Tuesday? Need some study tunes to help you get through the week? Check out Blue Tuesday – Editor’s Picks featuring emerging artists such as Nolan Feeny, GVO Collective (Good Vibes Only), George Marshall, Runnner, and more. Check out the embed below, let us know what you think in the forums and stay tuned for more.

(COVER – Dreamers by Nolan Feeny)

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.

Hannah Levine-Drizin’s Artistry

We connected with Ann Arbor-based artist and student Hannah Levine-Drizin and asked her about her process, art and more!

HLD: When I’m making art, especially these illustrations, I get really in the zone. Right now, it’s especially hard for me to find motivation, but my art motivates me. I get excited about seeing something come together, although at the same time it’s kind of scary. One minute what I’m working on looks like trash and then all of a sudden it doesn’t. 

I think when it comes to making these pieces, I really focus on reference photos, which takes up most of my attention. I look back and forth between what I’m creating and what it’s based on. It is great because life can be overwhelming at times, but when I’m creating art, that’s all I’m really thinking about. I also get very excited when I think about people having my art hanging up in their houses.

Some of the pieces are my versions of famous pieces, so I can’t rake all the credit. The woman with the umbrella is a Monet piece I tried in my own style–“Woman with a Parasol turned to the left”. The orange with dancers is based off of a Degas, “Dancers at the Barre”. And the bedroom one is a Van Gogh, “Bedroom at Arles”.

Follow Hannah on Instagram to see more of her work!

All images provided by Hannah Levine-Drizin

New Hip-Hop Friday with Rising Artists

Been needing something fresh to add to your playlist? Check out the tracks below and let us know what you think in the forums.

knew u – PLASTIC PLANET ft. Jake W

PLASTIC PLANET’s 5th single is here with some much-needed chill summer vibes. Jake Ward features on the intro for some smooth r&b action.

Cold Peanut Butter – Faddy Datty, Mr. Proper

Faddy Datty is back in 2021 with a fresh flow and some t h i c c lyricism for one cold track.

Chechen (Album) – GVO

Detroit-Area based rap collective GVO (Good Vibes Only) is following up their debut live concert last week with their debut album. 10 cuts, 11 artists, and a million bars in this project. Check it out, let us know what you’re thinking and stay tuned for more rising artist coverage