Off-White at Paris Fashion Week Men’s S/S 2019
Mood board: The level of Virgil Abloh’s impact on pop culture at large will climax at his first show as artistic director of Louis Vuitton later this week. Taking over the house’s menswear direction from Kim Jones (who has switched to Dior), Abloh showed his S/S 2019 Off-White offering to a buzzy, convivial crowd. Any grown-up chutzpah seemed to be on hold for LV. Off-White is about youthful, twisted streetwear. Bags. Shoes. Jeans. A large room at the Théâtre National de Chaillot was laid in AstroTurf, the front row view of the Eiffel Tower blacked out by curtains. Guests sat in rows on tiny wooden chairs. The room sweltered with the summer heat, yet this added another level to the clothes; with Abloh you are never quite sure what is intended and what is accidental.
Best in show: His collection offered a number of studied teen staples, reimagined and recalibrated for Gen Z. The mood was teenage fantasy – the adolescent years of someone who might be in their mid-thirties today. The signs were clear in The Simpsons graphics on the front of t-shirts – the suburban idyll of 742 Evergreen Terrace, Springfield is an enduring image to children of the 1990s. Bart’s face screamed out of a ribbed knit as if asserting Abloh’s own position as a pop polymath: ‘I’m Bart Simpson, who the hell are you?’ The models wore shiny Dr. Marten’s lace-ups. Graffiti text is seen across the collection, in reference to the graphic drawings by the late American artist Donald ‘Dondi’ White – who died in 1998, leaving behind a vast body of work. Denims with embroidered and printed scripts were conceived in collaboration with Ev Bravado.
Finishing touches: With this focus on youth and the street kids of New York, denim featured heavily – here it was glitched; the staple fabric reincarnated. A zip-up jean shirt had twisted front seams (the sleeves hacked off to leave raw edges). Trousers sat awkwardly on the waist, inside seams curved around the leg. Denim was flocked or doused in clear, reflective sequins. The merch was kept to a minimum. The brand’s rampant yellow warning tape strap bags and Nike collaboration sneakers filled up the streets outside the show. Inside, only three models sported bags, two wearing on their backs the same clear suitcase that Abloh launched in collaboration with Rimowa.§