Top, shorts, and trousers, OFF-WHITE C/O VIRGIL VIRGIL ABLOH.
Realisation: Camille-Joséphine Teisseire. Photo by Lonneke van der Palen.
Founded at the end of 2013, the Off-White brand was one of the eight finalists for the LVMH prize for young designers in 2015. Today it contributes to the drawing of a new conceptual and aesthetic horizon in the heart of the fashion industry that pulls closer together the once hermetically sealed domains of streetwear and high fashion. Within this breach opened simultaneously by brands like Vetements, Hood By Air and Gosha Rubchinskiy, are designers in their 30s uninhibited by fashion and luxury, whose very codes they're renewing by applying procedures that were once reserved to streetwear: playing with logos, hijacking, and even the direct quoting of other brands (thus ending the eternal quarrels about copying).
In this same spirit, these designers are repositioning fashion within a specific culture of the individual, with references exposed by their personal lifes. Virgil Abloh explains, "There's a new garde on the scene today. The kids who grew up in America look at luxury brands differently to previous generations. They know what's going on and they make informed choices. At the same time, streetwear has developed autonomously and created its own language. Louis Vuitton and Hermès are cult brands and their fans adhere to their values. The streetwear brands do the same thing. So there's a whole slice of up and coming society that's been nourished and cradled by the two worlds of luxury and streetwear, which up until now have been irreconcilable. My goal is to create a brand that focuses on both."
Before showing his menswear collection this January at Paris Fashion Week, Virgil Abloh presented his women’s collection for spring/summer 2016 with its pure and graphic silhouettes outside the official calendar in October. Attached to an idea of classic elegance with slender lines, it featured t-shirts printed with legendary rock group, the Grateful Dead. Further on came outfits stamped with checks, as well as pleats and asymmetric draping. There were cropped 90s-inspired t-shirts and sweatshirts worn with vintage Levis reworked into unique collector pieces. This hijacking of Levis jeans and Grateful Dead t-shirts are typical of a streetwear that places great importance on the authenticity of cultural products. “Everyone can make jeans but we can’t do jeans as interesting as the brand that invented them,” continues Virgil Abloh, “Contemporary attitude is all about looking for authentic products, instead of making a copy. It’s about giving it a new life in a new context. That’s what I like about fashion: you don’t have to just follow the rules. You can bend them too.”
Backstage: take a look inside Off/White fall-winter 2016-2017 runway show.
By Delphine Roche