Off-White Fall/ Winter 21: Fun with M.I.A. and Virgil
We’ll say this much for Virgil Abloh and Off-White, he sure knows how to put on a good show. Like his latest catwalk event on Sunday afternoon in Paris, with M.I.A. performing a live mini-concert at the finale, and a hoard of current and vintage supermodels parading his latest designs.
Entitled 'Laboratory of Fun,' Abloh revealed his most tailored and soigné collection to date, perhaps the end result of a move upmarket.
This week, Chicago-born Virgil opened up a new Paris flagship on rue Castiglione, named after the famed author of The Courtier, that knowing tale of an ambitious provincial in the world of royal affairs. And the store is located barely 50 meters from a royal standard of luxury – Louis Vuitton, where Abloh has his night job as creative director of menswear.
Bella Hadid opened and closed the show, in the exact same electric take on Yves Klein Infinity Blue. The opener was a micro velour cocktail completed with faintly marbleized knee-high boots and big gold-cluster costume jewelry. The finale was less happy; the same velvet cut into a flamenco gown with added tire-like hips and bosom. If Bella has rarely looked happier in her opening passage, she clearly grimaced pulling up the finale, the better to make her turn before the almost farcically small photographers' pit.
Out next came the 1990s' greatest indie model, veteran Amber Valletta, with her signature walk, a from-the-shoulders-down strut. Weaving between a series of great plywood-speaker columns worthy of Charles René Macintosh in a stone-blue, ironed-leather suit, and a blazer with off-center buttons. Prussian blue cool-wool suits topped with check cloches or ecru leather versions looked all tastefully haute bourgeois, though the designer did change gear for evening – with a trio of gowns nipped and extended along the sides. Art-gallery-opening gear par excellence.
“The collection speaks in part to my roots as an architect,” stressed Abloh in his program notes.
His big styling trick was a series of politely diabolical miniature corsets with fabric horns, but worn around the head as a mask and not on any torso.
In a co-ed show, Abloh also cut some very natty orange nylon blazers; oversized matelassé sleeveless puffers; and a series of voluminous loon pants – playing with perforations and extended back shapes throughout.
At the finale, guests practically wrestled for a copy of the invitation – a lime-colored Perspex square with the brand’s name stenciled out. And there was a sense of stenciled shapes this collection. All told, this was Abloh’s most tailored and traditionalist display, devoid of any DJ T-shirts and with limited doses of street-wear. And yet, as an ensemble it all felt very now, very assured.
Virgil was so confident, he strolled about greeting guests before the show. Like all his guests, wearing a mask. And then led out his cast for a final walkabout, ending up on stage, high-fiving M.I.A. as she went through a full-blooded version of her iconic hit 'Paper Planes.'
Most definitely a fun laboratory.
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