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Virgil Abloh-Mercedes Maybach Car Collab @ Art Basel This Week

The groundbreaking designer who ‘embraced the human touch’

By Martin Grossinger
November 29 2021

The global cultural intersection where industrial design meets architecture, fashion, music and, most recently, cars, lost a cherished, innovative voice yesterday with the passing of Virgil Abloh, the 41-year-old Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton’s men’s lines as well as the Founder of the iconic street fashion brand Off-White. Among the creative collaborations he was intimately involved with up to the final hours of his life was his yet unseen collaboration with Mercedes-Maybach, due to be revealed this week at Art Basel Miami. 

The silhouette of Abloh’s new Maybach. Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz.  

Celebrated worldwide for breaking the cultural barriers that shaped the fashion world, Abloh’s collaborations went beyond sportswear and luxury brands, as comfortable working with Nike and LVMH as he was with Mercedes and music, integrating the disciplines into everyday life as a DJ and a designer with fellow trailblazers like Kanye West. His controversial take on design bridged the worlds of streetwear hypebeasts and the luxury fashion houses that he came to direct. 

Now, in his final automotive work, Abloh leaves us with a new take on Mercedes-Benz' hyper luxury brand, Maybach. We’re not sure exactly how his vision will manifest before its debut this Wednesday, but we know that “Project Maybach” points toward the future of the now 100-year-old carmaker.” Mercedes-Benz’ Chief Design Officer Gordon Wagener said of the collaboration between the car manufacturer and Abloh: “After 100 years, we transform(ed) the brand into a luxury electric future. Together with Virgil, we are writing a new rule book for Mercedes-Maybach.” 

Fashion meet's function. Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz 

The Mercedes - Abloh partnership wasn’t their first time to the collaboration rodeo: Abloh also partnered with Mercedes-Benz last year, resulting in an outstanding racecar take on the usually staid G-Wagon. The boxy off-roader-turned-status-symbol was reimagined as a grey touring car, complete with a roll cage, stripped-out interior, and racing tires. Controversial, like much of Virgil Abloh’s work, “Project Geländewagen” was met with equal parts excitement and derision from the fashion and automotive worlds. Some critics felt it was ridiculous to take a big, boxy SUV and turn it into a make-believe racecar. Others applauded Abloh’s decision to redefine what a racecar could be – a seemingly unfinished, unpainted, and unpolished look at something unexpected. “The idea here is to embrace the human touch,” said Abloh. 

Whatever’s coming on December 1, we know it will be special – not just for its artistic merit, but as one of the last statements by one of the design’s brightest stars that, like other greats before him, is gone too soon – but certainly will never dim nor fade.   

Virgil Abloh and Gorden Wagener, pictured while they were working on the Project MAYBACH collaboration. Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz 




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