The late designer’s label, Off-White, opened Paris Fashion Week with a commemorative catwalk.
Virgil Abloh, a multi-hyphenate creative director, DJ, architect, recurrent collaborator, and amplifier for the voices of the Black community, was hardly eartbound. It’s therefore not surprising that we’ve been visited by a drone kite and runway angels since his untimely death in November.
Following two Louis Vuitton tributes to Abloh since his untimely death, this posthumous Off-White presentation seemed more like a celebration. Rihanna and A$AP Rocky, Idris and Sabrina Elba, Pharrell Williams and his family, Louis Vuitton and New Guards Group CEOs, and a who’s who of designers, including Jonathan Anderson, Olivier Rousteing, Matthew Williams, Guram Gvasalia, and Jerry Lorenzo, were among the passengers aboard the “Spaceship Earth,” as it was called.
The spaceship analogy worked in a number of ways. The exhibition featured not only Off-White’s autumn/winter 2022 RTW collection, but also a new high fashion line (haute couture without the appellation) “designed by Virgil and completed by the creative teams and collaborators with whom he worked,” according to the event programme.
But first up was the ready-to-wear and the show began with a dramatic, dark presentation that included heavy coats, the brand’s signature wide shoulders, and sharp tailoring. Abloh saved his biggest statement for a pair of white flags printed with the phrase, “Question Everything” in his signature “quotes” branding that he was os famous for. And after a series of light and loose satin slip dresses, knit dresses, and bright puffer coats, the question was why not launch couture?
Each of the 28 high-fashion ensembles was meticulously annotated on the show notes, not just with the amount of hours spent on this embroidery or that handcrafted veil or train, but also with brief backstories. Which is significantly more meaningful. There was a Carrie B. dedication to pal Sarah Jessica Parker, replete with a massive shopping bag. There was also a self-portrait—The Verg—with an oversized jacket, baseball cap, sneakers, and sunglasses modelled by Gigi Hadid.
Speaking of supermodels, there were at least a dozen on the runway, spanning both original and new-gen. Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Helena Christensen and Amber Valletta represented the old guard, while Cindy’s daughter Kaia, Kendall, Bella and Gigi all also walked. Serena Williams also paid tribute to her longtime fashion collaborator, marking the first time the 23-time major champion walked for a major luxury brand during fashion month.
“The ethos of Off-White is it’s not just clothes,” Abloh remarked at his last show before the pandemic in February 2020. “My inspiration and motivation is more the humanity level.” For whoever takes over the Off-White pilot seat, these arecertainly words to live by.