Louis Vuitton & Nike “Air Force 1” designed by Virgil Abloh
Louis Vuitton announces a series of events surrounding the release of the Louis Vuitton and Nike ”Air Force 1” designed by Virgil Abloh. In June 2022, 9 editions of the sneaker – first presented as part of the Spring-Summer 2022 Men’s Collection – will be launched globally through an inclusive digital activation, with members of the Maison’s community offered early access to order the shoes. From 20-31 May, the 47 editions of the ”Air Force 1” imagined by Virgil Abloh will be exhibited to the public in the showcase Louis Vuitton and Nike “Air Force 1” by Virgil Abloh in New York City. The event will coincide with a number of corresponding art installations around the city.
Manufactured in the Maison’s Manufacture in Fiesso d’Artico, Venice, Italy, each design fuses the sneaker’s original codes with the Maison’s finest leather, materials and insignia of Louis Vuitton, and the distinctive visual grammar of Virgil Abloh. In February 2022, 200 pairs of the sneaker designs were sold at auction, to benefit The Virgil Abloh™ “Post-Modern” Scholarship Fund.
The 9 editions selected for Louis Vuitton in-store release cover mid-tops and low-tops, and will be made available in Nike sizes ranging from 3.5 to 18. The launch includes the classic all-white sneaker embossed with the Louis Vuitton Monogram, and a riff on the same design in black suede. Two-tone editions in white with either green, red or blue detailing nod at the rainbow motif key to the work of Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton. Likewise, a metallic gold sneaker pays homage to the designer’s debut collection for the Maison, while patch-worked multi-colour renditions celebrate his distinct graphic language. Finally, a Damier edition is adorned with a “Louis Vuitton” graffiti motif created by the artist Ghusto Leone.
Louis Vuitton and Nike ”Air Force 1” by Virgil Abloh: Exhibition
From 20-31 May 2022, the exhibition Louis Vuitton and Nike “Air Force 1” by Virgil Abloh will take place at the Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse in New York City. Open to the public, the expansive showcase charts the creative dialogue between Nike and Louis Vuitton envisioned by the Maison’s Men’s Artistic Director Virgil Abloh for the Spring-Summer 2022 collection prior to his passing on 28 November 2021. The 47 editions of the Nike ”Air Force 1” sneaker created by Virgil Abloh in partnership with Nike for Louis Vuitton will be displayed in physical and virtual form in immersive spaces reflective of the designer’s domains of creation and presentation. Coinciding with the exhibition, a number of corresponding installations will take place around New York City and the world.
The exhibition is a spatial experience founded in the dreamy expressions of Virgil Abloh. As Men’s Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton from 2018-2021, the designer consistently challenged his audiences to imagine a world beyond manmade limitations. Employing fashion as a tool for change, he wanted people to reconnect with their childlike outlook, and construct a culture devoid of preconceived notions of human and material worth. He continuously questioned the meaning of ‘high and low’, a discourse reflected in every image and design he created at Louis Vuitton. As a high fashion designer born out of a streetwear community shaped by hip-hop, Virgil Abloh erased the borders between the two spheres and used his platform to celebrate the historical influence of Black subcultures on mainstream fashion. His work was, above all, about humanity and unity.
Drawing on the surrealist ideas central to his practice, the 47 editions of the Louis Vuitton and Nike ”Air Force 1” dialogue are exhibited in motion on magnetised walls and in holographic displays animating the sneakers with cues to the breakdancing rooted in the hip-hop culture inseparable to their legacy. A treehouse constructed above the city pays tribute to Virgil Abloh’s affinity for the childlike mind. Inside, it recreates with exact detail spaces from the Louis V uitton studio and atelier he furnished on Rue du Pont-Neuf in Paris, highlighting the savoir-faire central to his work for the Maison and the artisanal merit with which the sneakers were created in Louis Vuitton’s workshop in Fiesso d’Artico.
As a way of building bridges between countries and cultures, during the run of the exhibition large glass boxes placed around New York City will display graphic globe sculptures tied to the themes of the showcase. The five instillations exhibited throughout the city can be experienced at Domino Park, Grand Central, South Street Seaport, Astor Place, Columbus Circle, Flatiron Plaza and Gansevoort Plaza. The globe is representative of the unifying motifs Virgil Abloh reiterated in his collections, shows and imagery.
Louis Vuitton and Nike ”Air Force 1”: Sneaker
Celebrating its 40th year, the Nike ”Air Force 1” was designed by Nike in 1982 and is one of the most successful shoes ever created. For his Louis Vuitton Spring-Summer 2022 collection, Men’s Artistic Director Virgil Abloh collaborated with Nike on 47 bespoke ”Air Force 1” editions, which were crafted in the Maison’s Manufacture in Fiesso d’Artico, Venice, Italy fusing the sneaker’s classic codes with the insignia and finest materials of Louis Vuitton. On the album It Takes Two from 1988, DJ E-Z Rock was immortalised wearing Nike ”Air Force 1” sneakers altered with a Nike Swoosh adorned in the Louis Vuitton monogram by the Harlem designer Dapper Dan. The cover embodied the hip-hop community’s early practice of hacking together high fashion and sportswear.
A cultural symbol in its own right, Virgil Abloh viewed the Nike ”Air Force 1” as an objet d’art emblematic of self-generated cultural provenance. The 47 expressions of the Nike ”Air Force 1” were created for a Louis Vuitton collection rooted in the Amen Break, a little-known drum break of a B-side created by the funk-soul group The Winstons in 1969, which would be sampled and go on to underpin the hip-hop and jungle genres, and splinter into thousands of the pop tracks most familiar to us today. In June 2021, Virgil Abloh explained his approach: “The ”Air Force 1” is a sample like the Amen Break. A t-shirt is an ‘Amen Break’, a suit is an ‘Amen Break’. We’re all iterating on the same ideas. But, in my canon, the ”Air Force 1” puts the edge on the blade. This object happened way before me, but to get to a context where it’s adjacent to the t-shirt and the suit, its logic has been forty years in the making,” he said.