If the L.A.-based creative studio Playlab Inc. remains low-ley about the limelight, their fashion-related projects demonstrate a boundless and awe-inspiring vision. They began working with Virgil Abloh on the surrealist architectural runway designs for Louis Vuitton before he passed away last November, and have carried on this spirit for today’s show, which comprises a larger-than-life looping yellow track through the Louvre’s Cour Carrée. Yesterday, they created a more naturalistic intervention within the Jardin des Plantes for their other Paris Fashion Week collaborator, Reese Cooper. Headed by Archie Lee Coates IV, Jeff Franklin and Ana Cecilia Thompson Motta and supported by several more talented minds, Playlab Inc. also brings ideas to fruition across art, music video, book design, product and more, hence their tongue-in-cheek tagline, ‘No focus’. Yet it’s this skilled yet childlike multi-dimensionality – from ideation to execution – that feels so refreshing and would suggest they’re only just getting started.
In what ways do you see exploration as a natural part of the design process?
At the studio we talk a lot about how this whole thing we’re doing is the exploration of ideas and relationships, simultaneously. Exploring ideas is one thing, but good ideas executed well are products of a community of people working together. That’s the foundation. Past that, you work to iterate until you get to the point where you find something undeniably exciting to the group of people working on it. That’s the only goal, for that process to be freeing, an opportunity to find something magical.
What are some of the themes and ideas that you would like to see designers exploring through the next few seasons?
Every designer is different. Every brand is a different belief system. That’s what makes the whole thing interesting. There’s room for everyone. For multiple ideas and expressions. That’s why we underline people. The only thing we want to see are people being themselves, inclusive and kind. If that’s the base camp you’re hiking from, the result of the journey will be powerful. There’s not much room or tolerance for anything else, at least for us.
How have these past years shaped the way you explore fashion through social media and the virtual world?
Before Virgil included us in his journey at Louis Vuitton, we had pretty much no relationship or experience within fashion. The world-building of it–ideas manifested through product, architecture, graphics, film, experiences and music–was just something we respected and were in awe of, from the outside. As a result, to be honest, our experience is like 2% a virtual one. Our whole experience and focus is on what’s in person with the people that contribute to making these worlds beautiful and accessible to all. When the film or the content or whatever it is hits the internet, that’s the last 1% of a project, then you’re back in the studio, a Zoom, a WhatsApp chat, and onto the next dream.
How do you, personally, explore what’s new and exciting in fashion?
We’ll probably sound like a broken record, but we explore what’s exciting through and with the people around us. Reese Cooper is a perfect example. We met the man first, and the product second. We fell in love with his attitude, approach, perspective, vision and tenacity. The product is a badge we proudly wear because of that belief system, which is why it resonates with so many people around the world. That’s what fashion is about. A research project to find stories and build worlds around them. The journey of people and marking their existence through a variety of products and moments in order to show others what is possible. Once you find that, everything else feels less like work and more like freedom.