The gentrification of Off-White
It felt like we were fighting to get in to Noah’s Ark, and not into a fashion show, as hundreds of fans barged and scrambled for entrance inside Espace Cambon on Thursday night. Their dream – a chance to witness an Off-White c/o Virgil Abloh runway show.
Welcome to the cult of Off-White. Or should one say community? Seeing as a group of refugees known as the Melting Passes, a football team made up of migrant teens in Paris, sat front-row en masse. Abloh, to his credit, designed their football shirts.
Abloh’s invite said “West Village” but it felt more like the West Riding, seeing as the invite featured a gentleman and steed posed on an equestrian fair.
After the rugby ruck at the door, and a good amount of confusion over the seating, one chap ran around shouting repeatedly “Please Sit Down! The show cannot begin until you do!” before the ceiling lights lowered and the cast walked out back lit onto the catwalk.
Once again, one was transported to a rural idyll with a half-dozen tapestry dresses of bucolic countryside with the landed gentry enjoying life very much too, thank you. One gal even had a cape made out of saddle blanket material.
Even the finale had a country house wedding air about it, though ultimately these were posh street clothes: whether the metal mesh skirts and one-shoulder cocktail dresses worn with riding boots; or hefty track tops – all bearing some sort of cryptic logo, like his signature Arrowed X. Anchored by the designer's Nike sneakers or high-heels with tony silk scarf straps. Plus the sound track was War’s classic, The World Is A Ghetto.
Abloh received a huge ovation, most of the guests standing and cheering, as he took his bow. Pausing not far from the Melting Passes. Though he was brought up in Illinois, his own family immigrated to the United States from Ghana. He really is an expression of the new American Dream. But one which still has a hankering for Yee Old England. A Yankee tradition born long ago with Ralph Lauren.
Rarely has a major Paris catwalk seen so many newcomers in the audience. Which is one of the many attributes of Abloh – his ability to build a whole new world of fresh consumers. This is very much his moment.
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