Designer

Off-White SS19 Review

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Virgil Abloh put athleisure firmly back on the runway for the brand’s Paris runway show.

Virgil Abloh’s track-themed show seemed like an autobiographical metaphor this season. In addition to designing for his own label Off-White (including coveted footwear collaborations with Nike and Converse), designing Serena Williams’ US open outfits, being a DJ, music producer and all round socialite, he’s recently taken the reins designing menswear for Louis Vuitton.

You can bet he’s been doing his fair share of running around.

Yet, c’est la vie for the world’s most celebrity fashion designer. In his piece on the collection for Vogue, Anders Christian Madsen observed seeing an off-white clad man in a physical fight with his taxi driver, whom he’d refused to pay after the taxi made him late for the show. This typifies the obsessive following of Virgil Abloh’s Haute Streetwear.

He’s mastered the model of a highly successful streetwear business that brings in high revenue and streetwear credibility, which at the same time allows him to stage runway shows which solidify his label as high fashion.

The shows’ first, second and third looks were worn by Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Kaia Gerber respectively, forming arguably the holy trinity of supermodels in 2018.

However, it didn’t end here, as it thematically often has in Off-White womenswear shows. The show was a cleverly staged tribute to women in sport.

Alongside the hottest supermodels of the season, Abloh sent 6 athletes down the runway, including British sprinter, Dina Asher-Smith, and heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

For a brand whose womenswear has at times seemed vapid over the last few seasons, the casting and staging brought an endearing thematic specificity. Whether Off-White womenswear is now ‘athleisure’, remains to be seen. But the thought that it could be is an exciting one.

The show’s success was tempered by accusations of uncredited copying that have plagued Abloh over the last few seasons.

Instagram’s beloved fashion police Diet Prada (@dietprada) called him out over his alleged imitations of designers including Hussein Chalayan, Giambattista Valli and Martin Margiela in the SS19 collection.

One of the recurring themes of the collection was garments made from repurposed nike socks. This was a pointed reference to the unsuccessful #boycottnike movement that caused a furore around Nike’s Colin Kaepernick campaign. The Nike-sock looks were a powerful response to this, but imitation is not always the greatest form of flattery. As Diet Prada pointed out, these garments held a strong resemblance to the work already shown by both Hussein Chalayan and Martin Margiela.

It was a strong show from Virgil Abloh, with a specific aesthetic focus that has been somewhat lacking from his womenswear shows thus far.

If he continues to follow this particular thread for a couple more shows, whilst maintaining his talent for commercial success and keeping his loyal following, Virgil Abloh could be bringing back athleisure in a big way.

 

Words by Kieran Ahuja

Edited by Holly Harper

 

Holly and Eleanor are your fashion editors

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