If there's one thing I can't deny, it's that Virgil Abloh has managed to become a bonafide and overnight success alongside his brand Off-White. Running amongst the big names of Alessandro Michele and Demna Gvasilia, Abloh has turned a newborn brand into an empire in only a few short years. Through strategic collaborations and the marketing skills of a true millennial, appealing to the generation that's obsessed with staple pieces like handbags, shoes, and sunglasses that set them apart from everyone else, Off-White has become one of the most Instagram-worthy brands of 2017 and it's about to go even harder in 2018. Virgil has achieved brilliant new levels of both artistry and, as it seems, popularity. His live-stream on Instagram, taking the average follower through the process of creating and planning a Paris runway show, is one of the many things about Off-White that set it aside from other brands. Needless to say, it has already become a real contender alongside Gucci and Balenciaga for the approval of our generation that can be found in Virgil's down-to-earth approach of his clients and followers alike, alongside the brand's unique identity.
Now, was this show a little bit of a mess? Yes, probably. Virgil was making changes to the clothes an hour before the event. But, was it still great and truly "Off-White"? Yes. The Paris show was set up simply. No elaborately designed environment as always, letting the collection shine and giving the focus not only on the clothes and accessories but the muses as well. The Fall 2018 collection was inspired by the woman who "lives in the West Village, goes to SoulCycle on weekdays and rides horses in Westchester on weekends", so basically your average Off-White client? (In 2018 I'd switch from SoulCycle to SBC and Dogpound instead if we're being honest). The collection did stay true to its muse, however, Abloh brought together street style and equestrian vibes that clashed gently (is that an oxymoron?) and gave his audience - that almost crashed the show - a lot of new sellable and wearable clothing, shoes, and handbags.
It's interesting to see how male designers design for women and it becomes even more interesting to see how they find inspiration and who their muses are; how closely they resemble their average female client. While Virgil keeps his vision intact, sticking to the muses he finds in Princess Diana, in Pretty Woman or in the women of Sex and The City, he also manages to show that he is set on presenting realistic designs, not only meant to be seen on the runway or in editorials but to be worn by his buyers and to be worn by his muse for this collection, a woman who definitely exists and isn't hiding in a fictional New York City.
Overall, Virgil has once again managed to put out a collection that will sweep the crowds and have everyone loving it. Proving that even when your brand can do no wrong in the eyes of your loyal customers, if you have a clear vision it won't be lost in the hype.
Extra Special Nods:
The pale blue and green tapestry corsets, dresses, jackets, trousers and bodysuits that stood out in the best way and sold the idea of "body conscious tailoring" that Abloh campaigns for. Bringing together luxury and wearability on the runway, something that a lot of brands attempt but fail at.
The hybrids: Whether it was with the half python print halter-neck and half ruched blue leather dress, the croc print and python print leather coats and bodysuits, or the minimalistic leather and vinyl dresses split in half, Abloh brought together material that is expected in a Fall line but instead of separating it into categorised looks, he sort of, mixed them all together. This is telling for an industry that is going in too many directions; the need felt by designers to "keep up" and produce every look that is demanded is creating hybrids of patterns, fabrics and even the clothes themselves. It's no longer just a matter of who is on the receiving end of the collection anymore because it's for everyone and anyone who is willing to take a look and buy, masculine, feminine or anywhere in-between.
It's important to note that some critics have said that Abloh paid homage to the late Azzedine Alaïa through the croc print leather jackets and dresses that clung on the models and was, in return, praised for it.
Equestrian Realness: Mixing athletic and equestrian wear with a female strike, Off-White introduced leather riding boots - both over the knee and not-, full bodysuits with his, by now, signature writing: MODERN, and even t-shirts stamped with a woman we assumed is his muse for this collection, riding a horse. Taking his now famous writing on clothing, shoes, and accessories to stamps, Abloh has created clothes that demand attention from onlookers and a trademark that will be recognizable for the years to come.
Continuing the tule dresses from last season, Off-White presented champagne-hued dresses that in Abloh's own words "juxtaposed formality". Interestingly enough, the dress that Grace Elizabeth wore down the runway was only made up of the first part of the tule, Abloh added the bottom two an hour before the show on a whim.
Alongside the pale blue riding boots and athletic wear, Virgil added sheer ruffled dresses in similar hues, adding a romantic feeling to the idea of his modern-day female muse. Contrasting those were the sport-style bustiers that were paired with the sheer ruffle dresses and the bodysuits underneath the tule dresses.
Structured and lined knit dresses paired with thick coats, alongside Hailey Baldwin's long sleeve bodysuit look in the same lined pattern that sets Off-White apart serves as the brands identifying features.
80s shoulder pads: Not as exaggerated as Balenciaga or Marc Jacobs, but still there; hiding in the long plaid coats over the silky and sheer lingerie or the tailored suit sets, but most noticeably in the one piece tailored suit jackets.
Capes: Something we haven't seen a lot of this season was capes and Off-White delivered. In plaid, monochromatic, waterproof material or quilted and cropped, they were everywhere, presented in the same pale hues as the rest of the collection.
Two-piece sets in black leather and grey plaid, in the trademark pale blue and green tapestry fabric, in knitted tops and quilted skirts and in waterproof fabric.
The handbags: Structured, reminiscent of the Birkin or in the form of a ruffled box, the handbags came in different sizes, pairing with the pale blue croc print leather of the riding boots, a smooth leather in black, reflective and pale blue. They also came in the form of tan suede satchels, which, okay.
The Shoes: We talked about the riding boots, but did we talk about the heeled booties finished with a floral silk material wrapped around them? Or the monochromatic sneakers in black and grey with tiny neon arrows? Or the sandals with the same floral silk wrap? The rain boots lined with fur on the outside? What about the Nike sneakers with the famous plastic tag that possibly hinted at the new Off-White x Nike Air Jordan 1 collaboration dropping on March the 3rd, 2018?
Some of the looks from the Fall 2018 collection: