Virgil Abloh would have been 42 tomorrow. After tonight’s show for Off-White, the brand founded by Abloh, Ibrahim Kamara said: “It’s about celebrating him and his legacy. No one has succeeded Abloh in his role at Off-White – because who could? – but Kamara was appointed as the brand’s chief image and artistic officer by CEO Andrea Grilli in April to help steer it. Asked to characterize his role, especially in relation to this collection, Kamara said: “The beauty of Off-White is that you are involved in every detail of the brand. And although my role is image-based, I was able to investigate with the team as they built this collection. It’s a bigger role than I expected when I got into it, and it’s a great role, and I’m very lucky.
This collection was, in its infancy, designed and launched by Abloh before his death in 2021. Kamara said the team took the original record – an exploration of the human body – and built it. “Virgil was always thinking about the future,” he added. “He was almost in another universe.”
The show, of course, was hype. There were crowds outside and celebrities inside. Jonathan Anderson and Maximilian Davis were also there. The collection was prefaced and accompanied by a group of dancers, mostly Parisians, brought together by the choreographer Nicolas Huchard and interpreted to music by Faty Sy Savanet dressed in blue jumpsuits with holes on a carpet of the same particular shade. I thought the color was perhaps a subtle homage to Marcelo Burlon’s role in Off-White’s story, but it was also a special contribution from Kamara.
The collection followed the brief with imagination, while reaffirming the codes of the founder. The holes were used to expose the navel on patched leather dresses and workwear, feminized seams, shirt dresses and the knits that were a highlight of the collection. Sewing was used to map the outlines of muscles and organs underneath onto the suit, and later printed X-rays repeated the trick on more suit and denim: the garments bore an imprint of the body on the inside. inside. On this knit, fine braided cords were precisely applied to fine gauge shells to create more contour reefs that mapped the bodies below. There was also a large, unadorned, knit male costume that reflected the sartorial expression of form but also allowed for free and elastic movement.
The very Off-White, unfinished, “work in progress” concept was expressed through the tailoring of cut and seemingly half-constructed elements, as well as Out Of Office puffer jackets and sneakers with trailing seam lines at their seams. The most worn family of women’s clothing shoes all shared heels based on tight springs: funny, but also related to another topic of the show that Kamara shared. All of the models were new faces, which Kamara said mirrored the doors in the set design. He explained, “The show is a party, and it’s also about hope. Hope opens doors, and that’s something Virgil did beautifully until the very end. Hope is eternal.
This Off-White collection easily contained enough elastic potential energy to convince you that a brand that was also the conceptual work of a man remains very much alive, in tune and committed to progression. Jenny Holzer’s staff print t-shirts which were also given to guests and continued a project Abloh initiated in 2017 to support Planned Parenthood only added to this belief.