Previously part of Kanye West's 'team', Virgil Abloh art directed the album cover for the Watch The Throne. Now onto his second label, Off White - based in Milan - he continues to operate on the razor's edge of cool and industry credible. For S/S 17, he created a collection that was about the working woman. With Kanye in attendance, a parallel can't help but be drawn between the different approaches of these two designers.
Out of all the shows this week, this was the latest - with a 9.45pm start. A late evening slot for such an 'of the moment' label runs the risk of attracting a hype-y crowd. However, this felt like the most laid back and friendliest bunch of people I had the pleasure to be acquainted with all season. With Vetements having shown their S/S 17 collection during couture week, this left Off-White with the opportunity to present itself as the most authentic option of the two.
The opening audio was a sound bite from a Lauryn Hill interview. Talking about what success was to her, she spoke about the need to do away with what other people think. In Olivier Rousteing's recent interview with SHOWstudio, Abloh was not mentioned by him, when mentioning black designers other than himself. Kim's beau naturally got the shout out. Frank Ocean's 'Solo' track, which played during the show, spoke of the power of standing alone.
Entitled 'Business Woman', it was described by Abloh as being 'an updated wardrobe for the characters of Working Girl, the movie from the 80s. Imagining what 'the modern working girl' might need, these looks took her 'from work to brunch at "Jack's wife Freda" (a spot in Lower Manhattan), dinner with the girls or a night out in the town.'
The Maison Margiela mirror ball style socks saw our girl pretty much hit the dance floor from the get go. With oversized shirts, side zipped pants, red pleated skirts, velour track suit top, tailored disjointed jackets, point d'esprit tights and ruffles, it was pretty clear that there really are no daytime versus evening codes anymore. Pinstripe trousers worn to the office would actually not be a thing - but hey, for cocktails on Saturday afternoon - why not? An NYC weekend brunch can tend to go on...
Bags strapped to waists are a key accessory for S/S 17. They were here too - alongside the Off-White striped 'painting' bag and the white blank canvas tote. Liquid satin jumpsuits and matt satin on jeans were given a sporty vibe with fully fashioned racer back tops. Combined with tie-dyed pieces, prototype style white boots, and checkerboard prints, this all might sound like a lot. However, this collection felt very contained - despite its eclecticism. It felt like an actual collection - which is something that can't be taken for granted these days.
As Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill played out, his 'Business Women' looked like the kind that were ready to create a new paradigm. Ambition - pah, who needs it? It's in the bag.