Inside “Project Geländewagen” a collaboration between Mercedes-Benz and Virgil Abloh
“Project Geländewagen”, a first-of-its-kind collaboration between Mercedes-Benz and Virgil Abloh, has finally been unveiled.
Working with Mercedes-Benz Chief Design Officer Gorden Wagener, Abloh has designed an artistic model of the iconic G-Class, which celebrated its 40th birthday last year.
As owners of a G-Class car themselves, Abloh and Wagener used their personal experience when considering how Mercedes-Benz designs could be seen in a new light. Their aim was to drive luxury away from a polished and flawless aesthetic, instead creating something that was more raw and natural.
The exterior of the car arrives in a clean white to emphasize its silhouette, all the while laying its construction methods bare and celebrating the handcrafted imperfections that make it unique, the paintwork has been partially sanded hand to create a sense of simplicity.
The indicators, outside mirrors and bumper bar have all been removed and the body of the car has been both widened and lowered. The distinct personality of the classic car remains intact, however, and an exaggeration of the tires and spare wheel exude its renowned charisma.
Abloh was born outside of Chicago. He and his sister were raised in nearRockford, Ghanaian immigrant parents. Abloh attended the Boylan Catholic High School, and graduated in 1998. His mother was a seamstress and taught him the tricks of her trade.
Here is a timeline of Ablorh’s meteoric rise in fashion and design courtesy Vogue .
Abloh completes his undergraduate degree in civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. (In 2015, he would return to design commemorative tees for the university.) Rumor has it that on the day of his graduation, he skips his final critique to take a meeting with Kanye West’s then-manager John Monopoly. West and Abloh begin officially working together soon after.
Abloh completes his master’s degree in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology. During his time at IIT, a Rem Koolhaas building is completed, which Abloh says, “piqued my interest and opened my gateway into fashion.”
Abloh and West become interns at Fendi in Rome. Louis Vuitton CEO Michael Burke recently told The New York Times, “I was really impressed with how [Abloh and West] brought a whole new vibe to the studio and were disruptive in the best way. Virgil could create a metaphor and a new vocabulary to describe something as old-school as Fendi. I have been following his career ever since.”
Abloh and West, along with a crew of famous friends, make the rounds at Paris Fashion Week, turning heads in the process. They’re photographed Tommy Ton for Style.com outside of the Comme des Garçons show in what becomes a widely circulated pic. Abloh tells W magazine, “We were a generation that was interested in fashion and weren’t supposed to be there. We saw this as our chance to participate and make current culture. In a lot of ways, it felt like we were bringing more excitement than the industry was.”
Abloh officially assumes the role of creative director at Donda, West’s creative agency.
Abloh art directs the album Watch the Throne Jay-Z and West, an achievement that earns him a Grammy nomination. The album cover is designed Riccardo Tisci, then the creative director of Givenchy, a role Abloh was rumored to be up for after Tisci’s departure in 2017.
Abloh launches his first brand, Pyrex Vision, in New York. He purchased deadstock Ralph Lauren flannel shirts for $40 each, and screen printed them with the word Pyrex and the number 23, an homage to his childhood hero, Michael Jordan. They sell for $550 each.
Abloh shutters Pyrex and founds Off-White, a multi-platform creative endeavor based in Milan. Its main medium is fashion. At Off-White, he combines ideas of streetwear, luxury, art, music, and travel, defining the brand simply as, “the gray area between black and white as the color Off-White.” From the get-go, hovering quotation marks become Abloh’s signature.
Abloh launches womenswear for Off-White and begins showing his men’s and women’s collections during Paris Fashion Week.
Abloh’s womenswear operation gains steam when Beyoncé wears a palm-print sweatshirt with the word Nebraska on it, an homage to Raf Simons’s Fall 2002 Virginia Creepers collection, in Nicki Minaj’s video for “Feeling Myself.” That same year, Off-White is named a finalist for the LVMH Prize. He loses the grand prize and special prize to Marques’Almeida and Jacquemus, respectively.
Abloh opens his first concept store in the Aoyama area of Tokyo. The store features a watercooler with Off-White branded cups that visitors take for free and resell on the secondary market.
Abloh debuts his Grey Area furniture collection in Milan, his first furniture venture under the Off-White brand. It features iron grid chairs, benches, and tables with leather cushions and Carrara marble tops.
Even with the announcement of a collaborative exhibition with Takashi Murakami opening at Gagosian; the release of his first song; the opening of his New York store; the British Fashion Award for Urban Luxe Brand; and collaborations with WarParker, Jacob the Jeweler, and Jimmy Choo, the biggest news for Abloh in 2017 is The Ten, his sneaker partnership with Nike. Abloh re-creates 10 of Nike’s iconic silhouettes in a work-in-progress style, each adorned with a safety tag around the laces. The limited release leaves the sneaker market hungry for more, and Abloh hosts panels and workshops with Nike and additional releases throughout the year.
Abloh is named the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collections, stepping into the role vacated his friend and mentor Kim Jones. “It is an honor for me to accept this position. I find the heritage and creative integrity of the house are key inspirations and will look to reference them both while drawing parallels to modern times,” he says in a statement.
This summer, he will perform at Lollapalooza.
Virgil Alboh’s artworks will be the subject of an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and his Ikea collaboration will be released through the brand’s international stores.