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Louis Vuitton Showcases Virgil Abloh’s Final Nike Collab in Brooklyn Exhibit

Louis Vuitton’s New York City takeover culminated Saturday with the opening of a Brooklyn exhibition showcasing the late Virgil Abloh’s upcoming Nike collab.

The installation displays the 47 Air Force 1 designs Abloh created for the French fashion firm’s Spring/Summer 2022 collection prior to his passing in November. The sneakers appear in physical and virtual form in “immersive spaces reflective of the designer’s domains of creation and presentation, Louis Vuitton said.

The exhibition, currently taking place at the Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse in Brooklyn, will close May 31. “Corresponding installations,” including a larger-than-life orange skateboarder that popped up near the Brooklyn Bridge earlier this month, will take place around New York City and the world. A map shared on Louis Vuitton’s website suggests there are—or will be—at least seven other installations in New York City.

Louis Vuitton’s men’s Summer 2022 show in Paris last June featured 21 variations on Nike’s Air Force 1 sneaker. Many of the shoes prominently featured Louis Vuitton’s checkered motif, punctuated with bright hues like green, yellow, blue and silver. The styles, which were made using luxe leathers and other premium materials, also featured proprietary details, like offset tags on tongues and small tags that modified the Nike Swoosh. Like Abloh’s past Nike collaborations, words like “air” and “shoelace”—in this case, “lacet,” the French word for shoelace—appeared within quotation marks printed on the shoes’ Air midsole and shoelaces.

According to the show notes, Abloh’s collection of men’s wear “zooms in and out on archetypes and subcultures, highlighting their cultural context and collective re-contextualization.” The former Louis Vuitton menswear artistic director said the line was inspired by the “Amen Break,” a frequently sampled drum solo from The Winstons’ 1969 song “Amen, Brother.”

Abloh’s final Spring/Summer 2022 menswear collection for Louis Vuitton was presented in Miami in November just two days after he died from a rare form of cancer.

Louis Vuitton partnered with Sotheby’s this winter to release the first Air Force 1 colorway of its Spring/Summer 2022 menswear collection. The luxury brokerage auctioned off 200 pairs of sneakers. Though Sotheby’s gave every pair an estimated value of $5,000 to $15,000, no pair sold for less than $75,000. One pair sold for $352,800. According to Hypebeast, Louis Vuitton intends to release nine more colorways in June.

The Brooklyn Museum will unveil a more comprehensive exhibition celebrating the late designer this summer. Titled “Figures of Speech,” it will feature a mix of fashion, large-scale sculpture, immersive spaces, videos and sketches spanning Abloh’s two decades in fashion. Set to premiere July 1 and run until Jan. 29, 2023, it will serve as a rendition of the 2019 Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s exhibit of the same name, which was the first dedicated display of Abloh’s work.

The collection will include collaborations with artist Takashi Murakami, musician Kanye West, and architect Rem Koolhaas; material from his fashion label Off-White; and items from Louis Vuitton. It will also feature “never-before-seen” objects from the artist’s archive and a “social sculpture” drawing upon Abloh’s background in architecture. According to the Brooklyn Museum website, Nordstrom and the financial services company Northern Trust are providing “major support” for the exhibition.

In other Nike news, ESPN reported earlier this month that the company appears “unlikely” to extend its signature footwear deal with Kyrie Irving, the Brooklyn Nets star who spent much of the NBA season inactive because he refused to receive a Covid-19 vaccine. Eventually, the Nets allowed him to play part-time at away games. A later change in New York City policy permitted him to compete in Brooklyn again near the end of the regular season.

Irving’s problems with Nike spilled into public view last year ahead of the release of the Kyrie 8. Responding to an Instagram post showcasing “leaked photos,” the point guard called the then-unreleased shoe “trash” and disavowed involvement with its creation.

“I have nothing to do with the design or marketing of the upcoming [Kyrie 8],” he wrote. “Nike plans to release it without my okay regardless of what I say, so I apologize in advance to all of my sneaker heads and true supporters of the [KAI 11] brand.”

According to ESPN, a new edition of Irving’s signature shoe will debut in the fall, but it is expected to be the final installment. Nike’s Kyrie line originally kicked off in 2014. In August 2019, Forbes estimated Irving’s Nike sneaker deal was worth $11 million.

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