Late designer Virgil Abloh’s collaboration with Mercedes-Benz in a joint design process with Chief Design Officer Gorden Wagener has taken luxury to a whole new level. In 2020, the revelation of Project Geländewagen marked the first chapter on their journey, and the reimagination of one of the most fashionable products from Mercedes-Benz, the G-Class. Inspiring others was Abloh’s main motivation: “My ultimate goal in this project with Mercedes-Benz is inspiring young artists, engineers, designers to question the status quo, in addition to experimenting with my own design abilities.”
Project MAYBACH: The theme of Project MAYBACH was to recreate the DNA of the sophisticated luxury car, the Mercedes-Maybach, in an off-road context.
The ultimate legacy car: coming in the two-tone colour combination in sand hue and glossy obsidian black, the S-Class by Virgil Abloh was strictly limited to 150 units.
Mercedes-Maybach S-Klasse „MAYBACH by Virgil Abloh” S 680:
Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert: 14,3–13,4 l/100 km;
CO2-Emissionen kombiniert: 326–304 g/km¹
It’s like a look into the future a few decades from now: When the show car Project MAYBACH was revealed in December 2021, the world witnessed a truly outstanding vehicle. As the second part of the collaboration between the two designers and Mercedes-Maybach, it became clear that together, their creative force was beyond borders. This is underlined as well by the show car: despite its length of six metres, the cabin of Project MAYBACH accommodates two passengers on a pair of futuristic seats. It is a coupé with an off-road design, which is bold and playful at the same time. And yet, it doesn’t lose a bit of the relaxed elegance of a Mercedes-Maybach. In addition, environmental considerations, an issue cars and fashion have in common, are also incorporated: the battery-powered electric car is equipped with solar panels built into part of the bonnet.
The theme of Project MAYBACH was to recreate the DNA of the sophisticated luxury car, the Mercedes-Maybach, in an off-road context. “With Project MAYBACH, we define the next level of luxury,” said Gorden Wagener. “After 100 years, we transform the brand into a luxury electric future. Together with Virgil Abloh, we are writing a new rule book for Mercedes-Maybach.” The result literally opens up new perspectives: you can lie comfortably in the vehicle while having an incredible view through the spectacular panoramic sunroof. The large off-road tyres are not less impressive. The interior of the car, coloured the same as the body, is a luxurious two-seater. The hatchet next to the driver’s seat was also inspired by the outdoor world.
Design and fashion connoisseurs all over the world were shocked to hear that Virgil Abloh died in November 2021 at the age of 41. In his professional career spanning more than ten years, the artist established his own Milan-based fashion label Off-White and made headlines by becoming Men’s Artistic Director at Louis Vuitton. Abloh’s designs kept on pushing the boundaries, most notably by elevating streetwear into high fashion.
This way, he managed not only to inspire the often-elite fashion scene, but also to give marginalized communities a voice to be heard. The Virgil Abloh™ “Post-Modern” Scholarship Fund was established by Abloh himself to support the next generation of Black fashion industry leaders. Back in 2020, a one-of-a-kind 1:3 model of Project Geländewagen was auctioned for USD 160,000, with all proceeds going to this fund.
The final chapter of Project MAYBACH was unveiled in April 2022. This time, a limited-edition Mercedes-Maybach S-Class is the centrepiece: coming in the familiar two-tone colour combination in sand hue and glossy obsidian black, the 150 units are also equipped with a unique bespoke user interface and a luxurious variation of the Maybach MBUX suite. A special capsule collection designed by Abloh and Off-White dropped on the same day as the limited-edition S-Class: the items spanned from sand-coloured t-shirts, crewnecks and hoodies to canvas baseball caps and racing gloves coated with a black spray effect.
Off-White capsule collection: Inspired by Project MAYBACH and in addition to the limited-edition S-Class, Abloh’s fashion label Off-White dropped a capsule collection featuring pieces such as crew necks and racing gloves.
Project Geländewagen: The first collaboration between Virgil Abloh and Gorden Wagener was the reimagination of the G-Class in 2020.
When Gorden Wagener was asked to summarize the journey of the last years, he put it this way: “I’m incredibly proud of the work we have created in collaboration with Virgil. From Project Geländewagen, which set the benchmark for fashion/automotive collaborations with our iconic G-Class, to Project MAYBACH, which brought the distinguished Mercedes-Maybach heritage into the future, together with Virgil we truly broke new ground. The limited-edition Mercedes-Maybach by Virgil Abloh exemplifies the symbiosis between innovative design and ultimate craftsmanship now available on the road.”
Virgil Abloh was a revolutionary in luxury fashion. Following the foundation of his own Milan-based fashion label Off-White, he became Men’s Artistic Director at Louis Vuitton in 2018. Abloh died of cancer in November 2021 at the age of 41.
Gorden Wagener studied industrial and transportation design at the University of Essen and London’s Royal College of Art. In 2016, he became Chief Design Officer at Mercedes-Benz Group AG, introducing the new design philosophy of sensual purity.