Hardware Deluxe Virgil Abloh presents a vision in the “Slightly Off” collection for life after the death of streetwear
While Virgil Abloh was on a 3-month, doctor-imposed health hiatus, Off-White got a new logo and visual identity – an enigmatic sinking person’s upturned face and outstretched hands below the words “Off” and “White,” sometimes abbreviated to just the one hand reaching for the “Off.” There was something serene and meditative to his Rene Magritte surreal cloud painting-themed collection for Louis Vuitton men’s upon his return, suggesting he had had the time to think and have his head in the clouds. This period of contemplation apparently marked a period of growth and development for the designer and a course correction for Off-White, his wildly popular streetwear brand that took the world by storm. When he realized that the best-selling item in women’s the last 2 years was a tailored jacket, it caused him to prognosticate the death of streetwear. Always one to get in front of the trend, Abloh’s FW 2020 collections for Off-White men’s and women’s ready-to-wear signal a pivot to more mature and sophisticated tailoring and design.
This is smart because he can expand his client base by broadening the target age group, as evidenced by the inclusion of 90s era supermodels such as Carolyn Murphy in the show and Mama Hadid, Yolanda, in her first return to the runway in almost 35 years. She looked chic and sharp af in a white graffiti print blazer, bra top, and black cigarette pants, demonstrating how to make streetwear more adult and lux and less juvenile and pop. This is how to integrate and elevate streetwear elements to infuse modernity into a mature wardrobe without looking ridiculous or age inappropriate. Classics like pencil skirts and tailored looks get a contemporary twist in pony or psychedelic houndstooth, made cool with bucket hats and statement hardware. And his use of color was very modern, combining orange and midnight blue, or lime green with cobalt, purple, or black. All in all, there was an integrity of concept and execution in the production and staging, and a convincing craftsmanship.
Hybrid gowns with extravagant, full skirts, pleating and ruffles spliced with camouflage cargo pants and midriff top or deconstructed Arc’tyrex jackets – which apparently caused a last-minute change of venue because they didn’t fit through the door – are seminal works destined for the more daring and fun-loving on the red carpet. (Think Billy Porter’s Christian Siriano tuxedo gown at the Oscars in 2019.) The collection was so current; instead of referencing any other period, this collection is firmly planted in the now. Whatever his detractors may say, Abloh’s got his finger on the pulse.