A model presents a creation by US designer Virgil Abloh from Off-White fashion house. /AFP
A model presents a creation by US designer Virgil Abloh from Off-White fashion house. /AFP

Fashion’s freshest prince comes to the fore

fashion June 25, 2018 01:00

Agence France-Presse

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Virgil Abloh earns critical acclaim for his Off-White collection shown last week in Paris

FASHION’S DESIGNER of the moment Virgil Abloh channelled James Dean and the graffiti legend Dondi White at his Off-White Paris show Wednesday.

The American creator’s hype machine has pretty much hijacked the first three days of Paris men’s fashion week, with Kanye West’s former sidekick and muse also making his debut at the helm of Louis Vuitton on Thursday.

But first Abloh rolled out his own Off-White label’s spring summer collection, which he said was inspired by “those crazy summer New York City nights when it’s just as sticky hot at midnight as it was at noon”.

Raf Simons made a return with over-sized silk overcoats./EPA-EFE


With temperatures in Paris every bit as high, Abloh sent out a run of almost nostalgic youth culture looks, with references to the classic film “Rebel Without a Cause” and white T-shirts with tags in homage to the late New York artist White.

True to his streetwear roots, his tees were long and baggy and often cut to the elbow and beyond. 

His love of branding even extended to the shoelaces, which had “shoelaces” written on them just in case there might be a doubt.

Several models sported neck and trouser chains made from climbing hooks, with recut and embroidered jeans apeing a DIY teenage bedroom vibe, which included leaving the security tags on shoes.

A model presents a creation by US designer Virgil Abloh from Off-White fashion house. /AFP

And Abloh loves to add the odd couture touch, this time with a pair of jeans with a kind of floral toile de Jouy pattern that would not be out of place on the wall of a French chateau.

Before his Off-White show he told the French daily Le Figaro that he had much to bring to Vuitton, the world’s biggest luxury brand.

“I simply think that Louis Vuitton is missing the products that me and my generation want to buy,” he said.

Raf Simons, the former Dior designer now at Calvin Klein, is the latest to be tempted by the exodus from New York.

He had not presented his own label in the French capital for three seasons and he showed Paris what it had been missing in a masterly late night show in a suburban warehouse where he reimaging New Wave and New Romantic London of the early 1980s.

US designer Virgil Abloh appears on the runway after the presentation of his Off-White Spring/Summer 2019 collection. EPA-EFE

“It feels good” to be back, he told reporters, adding that his collection was “DIY meets the opposite” with a post-punk aesthetic transported to the luxury heaven of couture. 

He began with vivid oversized silk overcoats with studded backs with some of his models wearing leather mail shirts underneath, inspired by both the plastic rings of “six- and eight- packs of beer and by Paco Rabanne”, Simons said.

The theme continued with earrings made to look like drink can pull tops and sleeveless punky T-shirts adorned with iron rings and diamante details. 

Simons followed that by a run of outsized glittering polo necks, with a couple of shrunken woollen jumpers for contrast, as well as silky neck scarves which Duran Duran would have killed for in their pomp.