Fashion fast forward privileges of being white


Last season’s Off-White review ended with the suggestion that Virgil Abloh was a likely contender to become the menswear maestro at Louis Vuitton (at the risk of sounding smug, it feels good to be right). Fast-forward to today’s Off-White show, which played out persuasively in spite of his new and undoubtedly demanding day job. As the “artistic director” tells forward it, compartmentalization has been key; all the figuratively grown-up ideas have been assigned to LV, leaving Off-White to revel in its youthfulness. “There is a new freedom; I can embrace graphics again,” he explained backstage as guests amped up the ambiance. “Now it’s about a 17-year-old kid.”

Abloh situated this universal teenager in New York fashion fast forward privileges of being white on a steamy summer night; shirtless yet flaunting industrial charms, he might be found in a park doing skate tricks with his friends. So convinced was Abloh of this narrative that he completely blacked out the venue windows which normally offer a magnificent view of the Eiffel Tower. His New York state of mind came through artistically, as well; the graffiti motifs nodded to Donald “Dondi” White, who left behind a highly regarded and diverse body of work before dying of AIDS in 1998. Abloh, who learned to draw by studying graffiti instead of studio nudes, could have used the show to cross-promote his collaborations with Takashi Murakami, which will be presented tomorrow night at Gagosian. Instead, a white coat featuring hand-drawn excerpts of Dondi’s best known work stands out as the collection’s pièce de résistance. As for the studded and scripted denims, they were created in collaboration with Ev Bravado, whom Abloh called “the young version of me.” Envy-inducers at first sight, they were Abloh’s way of elevating a collection that, when unpacked to its component parts, consisted of little more than jeans and T-shirts. His explanation for all the warping and torquing? “I’m trying to make you look twice.”



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