At first glance, Virgil Abloh’s pastel ‘Sculpture’ rings for Louis Vuitton appear like simple, graphic shapes in scrumptious sherbet shades – take a closer look, however, and a raft of contradictions is revealed.

Made from hard metal, with an acrylic-based varnish, the designs – which pinch details from Haussmann’s Paris – are playfully weighted in French history. Drenched in the same sweet tones as the Louis Vuitton S/S20 menswear collection, the rings are encrusted in the type of intricate whorls and coils that curl around classical Paris columns, like fragments from that city’s rich urban architecture. The effect is unexpectedly understated; coloured in the same hues and with a lack of obvious definition, the embellishment is rendered almost invisible. It is Abloh’s way of fusing old and new; by seamlessly bridging the chasm between the classical and contemporary, he draws our attention to the evolving role of jewellery through the rings themselves.

Further traditional references emerge in familiar signet ring silhouettes. Reminiscent of classic jewelled rings, here Abloh renders old signifiers of power and fraternity anew. The ring becomes imbued with new symbols, its non- precious guise and cartoon-like shades challenging traditional values. §

As originally featured in the May 2020 issue of Wallpaper* (W*254), available to download free here