LONDON — Virgil Abloh, the creative mind behind Louis Vuitton men’s wear and Off-White, has created an artwork, “Project Geländewagen,” inspired by the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, in collaboration with Gorden Wagener, chief design officer at the German automobile maker, WWD can exclusively reveal.
The piece will be digitally revealed on Sept. 8 and a home-scale replica will be auctioned online following the launch. All proceeds will be donated to charity organizations that support the arts and the international creative community. The highest bidder at the auction will also receive access to the co-creators.
Abloh describes the collaboration as “a perfect chassis to interject modern artists’ ideas of what the future can be stylistically, within conceptual car design.”
Wagener said the project marks a unification of fashion and art with automotive, and pushes the boundaries of each respective creative realm to help rebuild the luxury landscape anew.
“Mercedes-Benz today is much more than a luxury carmaker, it is a design brand and luxury label. One major reason for our success story is our aesthetic soul and the unique style of our house. The next step in pushing Mercedes-Benz’s design is our collaboration with Virgil Abloh. We are set to create something unseen in both of our branches,” he added.
Bettina Fetzer, vice president of marketing at Mercedes-Benz, praised Virgil as “the leader in pop culture,” in an exclusive interview with WWD. She even has the Persian carpet Abloh designed for Ikea. “It’s blue and grayish and is lying in my living room. It’s a great example of him making things very traditional into something very cool and contemporary,” she said.
“We picked Virgil because he really brings his unique approach to that. If you have met him before, you know he can be very philosophical about what he’s doing and there’s this kind of substance behind him. There is this whole inspiration and then he translates it into a product. It was absolutely inspirational for us, we also think that with all the story that we’re going to be telling around this piece, we will be able to create a very emotional brand story to connect our different audiences,” she added.
“With Virgil, the first talk we had together, we were looking at cars and he came up with some ideas and designs. Mercedes-Benz always works into perfection and creativity in each and every detail of the car,” she continued. “For example, the paint of a car has seven layers of paints to get exactly this effect that it has now. So, we’re very proud and we put a lot of thought and details into that. And then, Virgil came along and said, ‘How can we make it a bit more authentic when the car is around, and can we not scratch off the paint?’ We could never have imagined. You should have seen our faces! We thought, maybe he will add more colors, like blue or purple, but he just went far beyond that.”
Fetzer revealed that the artwork was planned to be released with a physical event during Paris Men’s Fashion Week. But because of COVID-19 disruptions, they decided to postpone and instead release it digitally.
“It’s an opportunity for us to use all that creative power that we’re getting out of these projects and see how we can redefine what a digital event could look like,” she said. “We have chosen an approach with distinctive storytelling. Basically, we take the audience to our journey and to Gordon and Virgil’s creative minds.”
Looking at the near future, as a company that hosts over 70 fashion events in 40 countries a year, Fetzer said Mercedes-Benz will continue to take fashion shows and fashion weeks to emerging locales, both physically and digitally, such as Tbilisi and Mexico City, and support emerging designers with their talent support program.
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