OFF WHITE AW18 ‘WEST VILLAGE’
Another Collage of Cultural References for the 21st Century Power Woman
Virgil Abloh presented his Off White‘s AW18 collection under the theme of ‘West Village‘. The title is self-explanatory, with the designer also divulging that Sex and the City was an inspiration to his latest power woman collection. An unexpected but visually-heavy reference also came from equestrian subject matter, with Virgil recently bought a horse for his family, and this could be seen in the various thigh-high boots in the collection.
The late Susan Sontag‘s empowering voice opened the show, reflecting on imagery’s story-telling aspects as she spoke to John Berger. Virgil has certainly remade the formula for show presentation for Paris Fashion Week shows. He presents with elements of education via cultural references in either the setting (think SS17 at the UNESCO building, where guests passed Noguchi and Calder sculptures on their way to the show) or using John Berger in his opening show statements (first communicated in his AW17 show) instead of cutting straight to the chase (this is the chase). His shows are made up of a collage of visual and aural references, it’s up to the viewer to pick them out and explore. His friends are a priority in the front row, media take a close second place, but they are still second. This is the new order, and change is always a good thing for any industry. Virgil has the models of our era walking his shows, they too are a symbol of the current times (in the cultural landscape, not just in the fashion industry). Off White muse Bella Hadid opened the show, with model Liya Kebede closing the show.
Photographer Flo Kohl captured the show and the impromptu after-party backstage, where Virgil set up a shed and created a DJ booth. If you’ve just put on a major fashion show and your friends are all there, why not make the most of the moment?
As Virgil leads, majority of the industry (willingly or unwillingly) follows. Crossing genres, connecting the dots with individuals across different industries, the question is: why is Virgil the only one exercising his creative freedom in this way? The discussion of his work being ‘nothing new’ (also the title of his AW17 collection) continues, but the fact of the matter is, the way he is combining multiple referenced elements from the past together with the resources available in the 21st century, now, is completely new.