Let’s start with a game of 20 questions, shall we? Here are some hints:
-he’s a self-professed “faux-millennial”
-his atelier is a screenprinter
-and last but not least, his “lawyer is Marcel Duchamp”
Who am I thinking about?
This is not a good game to play when the reader can’t comment back straightaway, but I think we all know. We’re going to talk about Virgil Abloh, former creative director for Kanye West, and the powerhouse behind indie label Off-White, who bagged the title of artistic director at the French luxury luggage brand, Louis Vuitton in April 2018.
He’s a tiny bit famous, and even more so influential (just look at the number of his followers on Instagram, it’s like he owns a slice of the internet), and to top it all off, he has been named as GOAT (i.e. greatest of all time) by no other than Rihanna. Plus: he also happens to design streetwear like nobody else.
Which is where the subject of this review makes its grand entrance: Abloh’s SS19 collection for Off-White. Offering a new spin on Nike garments, Abloh sent out models clad in reconstructed running gear. Working with a Jekyll and Hyde-like aesthetic, the designer created neoprene bodices half-eaten up by enormous, fluffed up tutus and ankle-length skirts made of lace applique. Power suits came adorned with utilitarian accessories, silver bum bags, plastic belts. The whole shebang was fantastic.
…Except for one, teeny-tiny detail. If you flick through the images, you might find yourself squinting, zooming in, zooming out, scratching your head once, twice, or even calling a friend in panic. Do these clothes automatically trigger such a powerful experience of deja vu? Is this a testament to Abloh’s unmatched genius?
Not quite. Like a good millennial, Abloh creates clothes the way others create Instagram profiles: regramming the stuff already out there. Or in this case, ripping off already existing designs. Ever wanted to learn about the history of fashion, but found yourself lacking the incentive? Fear not, the 50% exciting, 50% confusing experience of not quite recognising where an Off-white number comes from will surely fast-track the process.
But let’s give credit where credit is due: the SS19 Off-White collection conceptual artist Marcel Duchamp (the stud with the urinal) would proudly claim to be his own. Without the added aura of mystique (the thrill of not knowing where the references originate), the clothes still looked absolutely amazing. To which we say: who needs authenticity when you can have Off-White.