Virgil Abloh’s Coming of Age Unveiled by Fondation Louis Vuitton

In loving memory and honour of the late designer

Virgil Abloh’s Coming of Age Unveiled by Fondation Louis Vuitton
Yaseen Dockrat

Fondation Louis Vuitton paid homage to Virgil Abloh by unveiling his Coming of Age exhibition in Paris. The two-week-long exhibition was held in loving memory of the late designer, who curated the first Coming of Age group exhibition in Los Angeles in 2019. The event centres around the diversities and complexities of male youth and boyhood, ultimately traversing race, class, and social economics, which served as a basis of Abloh’s boundary-pushing work.

Presented in partnership with Little Big Man Gallery, the exhibition toured the globe for three years, staging events in Beijing, Milan, New York, Munich, Tokyo, and Seoul. In every city, the event creates interactive spaces for students, artists, and local communities to access a DIY copy centre, where they are able to build and create their own unique zines. With a platform for each person to create distinctive zines, the exhibition showcases a worldly voice.

A massive wall filled with LED screens captivated visitors as they entered the space. The screens showcased works from Abloh, as well as global participants of the exhibition. The adjoining halls showcased artwork, from hanging wall art, to film screenings and interactive installations from prior exhibitions and shows.

The outdoor terrace served as the perfect interactive studio, where several monitors were set up with accompanying headsets, allowing visitors to retrospectively view past talks given by Abloh. Audiences were also given the opportunity to listen to music and watch videos that inspired the artist.

The exhibition then extended to billboard-sized portraits created by Julian Klincewicz titled 41 Portraits of boyhood. These portraits documented the variety of individuals Abloh represented throughout his first season as artistic director of menswear at Louis Vuitton.

As the exhibition held “youth” at its core, there was a red moon-shaped bounce castle floating on the fountain outside the museum. The castle was a past collaboration of Abloh and PLAYLAB. It served as the most fitting tribute to the late designer, as visitors of all ages were seen enjoying themselves, encapsulating the youthful spirit which served as an inspiration to the exhibition.

The Paris showcase reimagined, regrouped, and expanded the original exhibition and its narrative to pay homage to Abloh’s work. The space evolved into one that was open to the aspirations of everyday people and included all ages, genders, and races. According to the fondation, the exhibit allowed for its participants to serve “as an illustration of Virgil Abloh’s mission and achievement to democratise the dream embodied by Louis Vuitton”.