WEEK. 27.01.20

Virgil Abloh and Louis Vuitton get surreal in Paris

Virgil Abloh delivered one of the standout shows of Paris Fashion Week with his latest menswear collection for Louis Vuitton.

The artistic director presented a series of formal and refined looks for autumn/winter 2020, setting off a playful contrast with the typically ambitious set design. His models walked out into a surrealist cloudscape punctuated by oversized scissors, safety pins and other tools of the trade.

Entitled Heaven on Earth, the dreamlike presentation had observers picking out influences from Dali and Magritte to Alice in Wonderland and The Truman Show. Music was provided by Detroit techno legend Juan Atkins and his Cybotron project.

Image Source: Louis Vuitton
Image Source: Louis Vuitton

“The collection is about being open-minded and free, even in the constructs of formal menswear,” Abloh says in a video posted on the Louis Vuitton Instagram page, while his show notes encouraged attendees to adopt a childlike perspective in order to see corporate wear in a new light.

With each collection Abloh shows for LV, anticipation grows significantly. On this evidence, he isn’t running out of ideas any time soon.

John Boyega stars in Vue’s ode to cinema

Cinema chain Vue has enlisted John Boyega for a thoughtful new ad that positions the movie theatre as an antidote to everyday life.

The short film, which features a cameo from Ridley Scott and many more ‘Easter eggs’ for cinema buffs, encourages us to switch off from the myriad distractions of modern communications and social media.

Star Wars favourite Boyega is perfectly cast as the spokesperson for cinematic escapism, making a compelling case for the joy of taking time out with a film instead of staying glued to our devices all day.

There’s some science to back it up, too. According to a study by Vue and University College London, peoples’ heart rates become more closely aligned when they watch a film together on the big screen – and this kind of synchronised activity could lead to stronger bonds.

It’s a well-crafted ad, even if the message is hardly radical – who doesn’t enjoy going to the cinema? Nevertheless, it’s clear that the relationship between our phones, our social media activity and our happiness remains under close scrutiny. Brands that can offer collective experiences may benefit from this growing distrust of personal devices.

Amazon hopes to wave goodbye to payment cards

If paying for your shopping with the quick, contactless waft of a card still feels clunky to you – don’t worry, Amazon are on it.

The tech behemoth has a mission to eliminate what it calls “friction” (basically anything that could conceivably make you think twice about spending money), wherever it may be found. According to the Wall Street Journal, this means Amazon is now testing a system that effectively turns your hand into a credit or debit card.

Although the details are still vague, it is thought that customers might insert their card into a terminal and let it scan their hand. From that point on, they could pay for things simply by placing their hand over the terminal.

Many so-called biohackers, such as the thriving subculture in Sweden, have already inserted microchips that function as contactless cards or keys into their hands. This development would seem to offer the same benefits without the need for body modification.

Amazon supremo Jeff Bezos reportedly has financial services in his sights, with other tech giants also starting to get in on the action (Apple launched its credit card last year and Google is rolling out personal bank accounts). Traditional banking industry, be afraid.

Brand mascot Mr Peanut is dead

Meanwhile, in America… Snack company Planters has killed off its famous brand mascot Mr Peanut in the run-up to next weekend’s Super Bowl.

The character’s death was shown in a dramatic 30-second spot featuring actors Wesley Snipes and Matt Walsh, with Mr Peanut (who had been alive for 104 years) effectively sacrificing himself to ensure his two friends’ survival after a road accident.

During the Super Bowl, Planters is expected to expand on the story with a full ad that will include Mr Peanut’s funeral.

Now, if the idea of brands talking to each other on Twitter makes you feel a bit queasy, look away for a moment. “Always classy, always crunchy, always cleaned up nicely,” said Mr Clean in mourning. A distraught UNO, the card game, cried: “We’re dropping a Reverse Card on this.” Budweiser, Snickers and many more offered their condolences.

Marketing genius or, as one Twitter user had it, a sign of late capitalism in its death throes? Both? You decide. The Washington Post concluded: “The brands have created their own little world, and the rest of us just live in it.”


WEEK has been compiled by Alex Theaker, Matt Duxbury and Fabi Burnett.

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