Artist Spotlight: Is Virgil Abloh Legit?

Superstar fashion designer and entrepreneur Virgil Abloh is one of the world’s hottest names. Known for his brand Off-White and being the artistic director of Louis Vuitton menswear, Abloh is a trained architect turned streetwear mogul. He has worked with Fendi, Kanye West, Planned Parenthood, Rihanna, and many more celebrities and fashion powerhouses. His impressive career at only 39 years old also includes starting his own companies, designing album covers, and being a DJ. However, Abloh has not always been celebrated. He’s been subject to criticism regarding a number of controversies, namely the Black Lives Matter movement and stealing other designers’ work. Here I’ll break down his biggest controversies.

  1. Virgil Abloh’s appointment as menswear artistic director for LV was seen as a positive milestone in an industry that has been marred by racism for decades. However, some called his response to recent protests against racism and police brutality disappointing. Abloh chastised protesters for damaging clothing stores in Los Angeles, saying that “this disgusts me”–triggering an online debate concerning conversations about the black community. Some applauded him for his statements, while others saw his tweets as tone deaf, as the protests had been sparked by a number of black men and women murdered by police this year. Twitter users were also quick to call out his screenshot of a $50 donation to Fempower, a Miami art collective, to help with legal expenses of protesters. For a designer who sells his products for several hundreds or thousands of dollars, Abloh’s well-meaning donation was seen as stingy and artificial. (This also started the joke of rating things by “Virgils” as in 2 Virgils = 100).Image
  2. Abloh is also seen to some as an extreme appropriator–his work often consists of clothing or objects slapped with the signature Off-White quotation marks and red tags, then upsold at extreme prices. Belgian fashion designer Walter Van Beirendonck called Abloh a “copycat” for his recent fashion collection that mirrored Van Beirendonck’s FW16 work. But Abloh vehemently denied claims of plaigiarism, citing LV archives as his inspiration. This is only one of many accusations that the designer has stolen and appropriated others’ work.
    Louis Vuitton FW20 vs. Van Beirendonck FW16

    Off White X Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG 'off White' - Air Jordan - AA3834  101 - white/black-varsity red-black | Flight Club
    Off-White x Air Jordan 1 Retro High, priced at $14,155 on Flight Club
  3.  Off-White has been in hot water for its lack of staff diversity. In images circulated of a company Christmas party from 2018. Instagrammers spotted only one Black person among the entire team of 136 members, based in Milan. Critics called consumers to boycott Off-White. Despite being praised for being a champion of Black culture, some refuse to take him seriously due to his actions.
    Image

Although Abloh has been the subject of a number of controversies, his name remains largely celebrated in the fashion community for being a pioneering Black voice and designer. What do you think?

Extraordinary Slippers: Nicole McLaughlin

Nicole McLaughlin is a Boston-based artist and designer who produces one-of-a-kind fashion creations. Her zany accessory designs, including a slipper made out of tennis balls, or a vest fashioned out of cereal bags, span all sorts of materials and brands. I came across Nicole McLaughlin’s Instagram page over a year ago, intrigued by the hype surrounding upcycled clothing.

The young designer has also achieved more fame due to her footwear and accessory collaborations with popular brands, such as HighSnobiety, Reebok, and Opening Ceremony. She now boasts an impressive following of 384,000+ on Instagram.

McLaughlin’s compositions are the kind of simple but wonderful creative explorations I wish I could make–some designs are hilarious but impractical, others visually delightful. A graphic designer by day, she fabricates her personal experiments for the fun of it. McLaughlin’s designs are always pleasantly surprising–I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more of her work to come.

All images via Nicole McLaughlin

Dine and Design: Authentic Chicken Pho

When I visit home from college, I’m usually welcomed with my favorite meal, a steaming bowl of chicken pho. The Vietnamese noodle soup has been one of my favorite foods since I was a child, and my mom would spend hours preparing the aromatic broth. Pho is somewhat of a cure-all to me–whether it be a bad day, a cold, freezing temperatures, or homesickness. It connects me to  Vietnamese culture and never fails to make me feel better.

In my poster design class, I recently created a triptych series of noodles–yes, noodles. For now, I’ll share the pho poster and provide you with a recipe that can inspire your next quarantine project.

 

Homecoming

 

Classic Pho Ga Recipe

Serves 6

 

Ingredients

For the broth:

6 star anise

6 cloves

1 tsp whole black peppercorns

3 pounds chicken backs, necks, or drumsticks (almost any cheap part will do)

1 whole chicken, cut in half

1 piece ginger, around 4 inches, cut in half

2 yellow onions, peeled

1/4 cup fish sauce

2 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp salt

For assembly:

1 pound dried rice noodles

1/2 yellow onion, sliced very thin

3 scallions, chopped

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1 pound bean sprouts

15-20 sprigs Asian basil

1-3 serrano chilies, sliced (optional)

1 lime, cut into wedges

 

Instructions

  1. Lightly toast the star anise, cloves, peppercorns in a dry pan for 2 mins then place aside
  2. Char the ginger and onion in an oven on the broil setting until soft and fragrant (around 10-15 mins)
  3. Bring 5 quarts water to a rolling boil in a large pot
  4. Add all the chicken, boil for 3 mins, then reduce to a simmer
  5. Skim the surface of the broth intermittently to remove fat
  6. Add the ginger, onions, fish sauce, sugar, and salt
  7. Cook for about 30 mins until chicken is cooked, then take out the chicken halves to cool
  8. Remove skin from the chicken halves and discard
  9. Add the peppercorns, cloves, and anise to the broth (in a spice bag if you have one)
  10. Cook broth for another 60 mins
  11. Shred the chicken halves into bite size pieces (you may need only half of it for serving and can save the other half)
  12. While broth is simmering, blanch the pho noodles in another pot of boiling water for 10-30 seconds until soft but chewy
  13. Portion the noodles, shredded chicken sliced onions, and scallions into bowls
  14. Bring the broth back up to medium heat, ladle the broth into each bowl and serve
  15. Garnish the bowls to your liking with the bean sprouts, herbs, lime juice, pepper and enjoy!

The Wondrous World of Felipe Pantone

Felipe Pantone, an Argentinian-Spanish artist, creates futuristic, colorful art that breaks the boundaries of art technology. I first came across his work on Instagram, and naturally pored over his intriguing sculptures, described as “a collision between an analog past and a digitized future.” Infused with prisms of rainbow gradients, black and white glitches, and mesmerizing patterns, his art is an invitation to immerse oneself in another dimension.

Pantone acknowledges that he is “a byproduct of the technological age,” an identity that is familiar to we Gen Z’s and millennials. Growing up with the television and internet has shaped the ways in which we interpret visual information, something which Pantone plays with within his contemporary work.

Trained as a painter and graffiti artist, Felipe Pantone now holds shows all over the world and creates murals, sculptures, and paintings that tie together the natural and the digital–some can be read as “glitch art” and alludes to traditions of Futurism. His unique, futuristic, and dynamic works of art are also sometimes kinetic, allowing the viewer to experience different parts of the work as it moves. I find them completely alluring and fascinating–one day, I hope to own some pieces of his configurable art, such as works from the Modular Art System.

(All images from Felipe Pantone).

from chromadynamica

 

Mural from chromadynamica

 

SIN + MARCO from optichromie

 

Mural from optichromie

 

Process from planned iridescence

 

subtractive variability (kinetic color wheel)

The Ultimate TikTok Playlist

Never would I have thought that I would ever be publishing an arts and culture post about TikTok, but yes, it has come to this (Please don’t hate me). I have been sucked in the the addicting world of TikTok somewhat regrettably, but it’s okay–I now have a new bevy of absolute BOPS. Not only does TikTok constantly inundate you with bangers, it serves as a platform for lesser known artists to grow as well!

Alas, check out this TikTok-inspired playlist curated by yours truly. Perhaps they’ll make a good addition to your next Zoom party. (NSFW)

  1. Don’t Start Now – Dua Lipa
  2. The Box – Roddy Rich
  3. Say So – Doja Cat
  4. Blueberry Faygo – Lil Mosey
  5. Life is Good – Future ft. Drake
  6. Roses Imanbek Remix – Saint JHN and Imanbek
  7. ROXANNE – Arizona Zervas
  8. Savage – Megan Thee Stallion
  9. Supalonely – BENEE and Gus Dapperton
  10. Cuz I Love You – Lizzo

What You Can Do to Help

I wanted to take a break from my normal artist musings and offer some resources you can contribute to or use yourself. I acknowledge in this state of chaos and uncertainty, life can be quite confusing and hectic. But now more than ever is the time to help each other and act with compassion.

Here’s what you can do (many of these opportunities are located in Washtenaw county but there are other ways to help!):

The Ginsberg Center’s Connect 2 Community – Find local service and remote volunteering opportunities

Donate Blood through the Red Cross – Donors are urgently needed at the moment

Support Food Gatherers – Through financial or volunteer assistance

Maize and Blue Cupboard – Volunteer for an hour or two to help this on-campus resource, or use it for your grocery needs

Add to Mutual Aid Efforts – request help or contribute resources such as housing, food, etc. if you are in Huron Valley

Join the Washtenaw County Mutual Aid Facebook Group

Donate to Frontline Nonprofits – Avalon Housing, Delonis Center, Alpha House, SOS Community Services, Ozone House, Mercy HouseAnn Arbor Housing Commission, Community Action Network, Meals on Wheels Ann Arbor, and Peace Neighborhood Center to name a few

United Way of Southeast Michigan – Find volunteer opportunities

United Way of Washtenaw County – Donate to or volunteer with United Way in their COVID-19 community efforts

Washtenaw County Public Health – sign up to be an emergency volunteer

Support Service Industry Workers – USBG National Charity FoundationOne Fair Wage Emergency Fund, and the Restaurant Workers Community Foundation are accepting donations

WHO COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund – donate to send essential supplies, support workers, and help stop the spread of COVID-19

Support Your Local Businesses! – This can be online, through pickup, or financial donation. Also, be sure to tip if you can!

 

Remember to socially isolate and practice social distancing when with others. Also, be sure to reach out to your loved ones and make sure they are ok! This includes taking care of yourself and practicing self empathy. This is an extremely strange and difficult time, but we’re all in it together. Hopefully we come out more resilient, passionate, loving, and courageous!