Jul 5, 2021
We must recognize one thing in Virgil Abloh and his Off-White brand: here is a designer who knows how to put on a show. As with her new parade this Sunday afternoon in Paris, which ended with a live mini-concert given by MIA, while a horde of ultra famous tops from yesterday and today paraded in her latest creations.
This collection entitled “Laboratory of Fun” was the most couture and the most polished unveiled to date by Virgil Abloh, perhaps the culmination of the repositioning of the brand in a more upscale market.
This week, the Chicago-born designer opened a new flagship store on rue de Castiglione, named after the famous author of the Courtier, this edifying account of the adventures at the court of an ambitious provincial. And this boutique is only fifty meters from another aristocratic luxury classic: Louis Vuitton, where Virgil Abloh performs his other functions, those of director of men’s creation.
Bella Hadid opened and closed the show, in the same electric version of Yves Klein’s infinite blue. At the opening, a velvet cocktail micro-dress complemented by subtly marbled thigh-high boots, and large fancy jewels in a cluster of gold. The final was less happy: a flamenco dress in the same velvet, with inserts in the shape of tires at the hips and chest. If Bella had never looked so happy as on her first pass, she was clearly grimacing as the finale and turning around in front of the photographers’ pit, so tiny it was almost laughable.
Then came the super top of indie fashion of the 1990s, Amber Valletta, with her characteristic gait, a movement that goes from the shoulders. She slipped through the middle of a formidable colonnade made up of plywood enclosures worthy of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, dressed in a raw blue suit in ironed leather, and a blazer with off-center buttons. Prussian blue woolen suits cool wool topped with checkered cloche hats, or others in ecru leather were perfectly in the tone of good bourgeois taste, before the designer changed gear for the evening, with a trio of dresses pinched and lengthened on the sides. Ideal outfits for a gallery opening.
“The collection testifies, among other things, to my past as an architect”, explained Virgil Abloh in his program. Her main style tip was a series of gently devilish miniature corsets with cloth horns, but worn as a mask on the head, rather than the torso.
For this mixed show, Virgil Abloh also cut very chic orange nylon blazers, oversized and sleeveless quilted puffer jackets, and a series of voluminous baggy pants – systematically playing on perforations and lengthened shapes in the back.
At the time of the finale, the guests almost came to blows to keep a copy of the invitation (a lime-colored plexiglass square, with the brand name stenciled). And this collection also evoked shapes drawn with a stencil. In short, it was Virgil Abloh’s most couture and traditionalist show to date, without any DJ tees and with a very minimal dose of streetwear. For an overall result that is nevertheless very current and full of confidence.
Virgil was so confident that he came to greet the guests and walk around the hall before the parade. Like all his spectators, he was masked. Finally, he made a last lap of the podium at the head of all his models, to finish on stage and type in the hand of MIA who delivered an energetic version of his iconic hit, “Paper planes”.
Indeed, here is a real fun laboratory!
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