Out of this World, Still With Us – Off-White Fall 2022

off-white aw22

By Jason Kwame

The late and great Virgil Abloh’s first posthumous Off-White show proved that his creative legacy lives on. Spaceship Earth, an “Imaginary Experience”, christened Off-White’s new era, which will be dedicated to Virgil’s emphasis on collaboration. In other words, rather than having a single designer in the spotlight, the design team at Off-White have decided for now to work together as a collective to continue Virgil’s unforgettable brand DNA. 

This show was a great start at that. It was hard to imagine the fashion world had recently lost Virgil since all the designs showcased his signature touch, down to a tee (or tees). From the deconstructed or spray-painted ballerina ball-gowns paired with sequin t-shirts to oversized & slender suit jackets with sequined horse-rider helmets and bullet-proof vests. It was Virgil’s blueprint all over: mixing utility with high fashion, street style (sometimes literally- take his stripe road markings or arrow print, for example) with luxury. This time around, Virgil’s famous cut-out handbags – which fittingly resemble Mars’ surface – matched cut-out turtleneck sweaters, padded jackets and bags worn over little black dresses and starry suits. Some standout shearling, varsity and fur jackets were featured too.

Of course, it’s not Off-White without the legendary quote marks and Helvetica caps-lock font coloured labels, tags and logos almost boastfully left on items. Virgil’s thing was ironic and cultural references, so it’s no surprise the show had plenty. From t-shirts that said “no snitching”, hats with sporty “high fashion” logos to velvet smoker blazers that read “smoking” on the back. Not forgetting models waved a white flag reading “QUESTION EVERYTHING”.

As always, these pieces were his ideations coming to full fruition. The show notes featured texts to his team, where he described the Off-White ideal woman as one that is:

“independent girls…owns her apartment…loves…wears Nikes…and heels…wears boys clothes…listens to Hip Hop…really real”. 

More than anything, the 30-minute show and endless designs proved all that Virgil preached. How important it was to never delay on creating, to get your ideas and product out there. After all, that was the origins of his success: he started it all printing t-shirts himself back in Chicago. Even up to his final days, he encouraged newcomers – like UK cult brand Corteiz and Ghana’s Free The Youth – to do, via DM’s and zoom calls. 

Right in the middle of the room sat an oversized chandelier, facing a transparent-speaker sound system – fit for a dubplate soundclash – tastefully honouring Virgil’s multidisciplinary giftings: his accomplishments as a luxury designer and his love for all genres of music. 

The show’s mixed and blended soundtrack rang true to Virgil being a music historian, as he toured the world DJing late-night raves and afterparties and was known to sacrifice sleep often to be in the design studio first thing in the AM. As the models sauntered through the room, samples from JME and D Double E’s early grime days were set against Roddy Rich’s newest work.

The guest list was star-studded, so many worlds collided and stars crossed in one space: from Rihanna with a baby on board & A$AP Rocky, Paul Pogba, Headie One, Patricia Bright, Idris & Sabrina Elba, to the fashion design heavyweights like Jerry Lorenzo (Fear of God), Olivier Rousteing and Anna Wintour…

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As for the notable models: Serena Williams, the ageless Naomi, Bella & Gigi Hadid, Cindy Crawford and daughter Kaia Gerber, Adut Akech, DIPSET OG Jim Jones and Alton Mason. 

Though the celebrity turnout was obviously awe-inspiring, what’s more impressive is Virgil’s genuine connection to each and every one of them. Each could speak to his impact, each with a story – or custom piece – to show and tell. And Unknown T was around backstage – mic in tow – to find out about those stories for Off-White TV. 

All in all, the title fit the show well. It hinted at Virgil’s endless desire to continually create out of this world pieces that transcended here and now, things that hold value in an archive even beyond our days. Virgil urgently lived for “sharing the codes” (as Pharrell put it in a snippet of an interview that opened the Off-White show). Now that he’s gone, it’s time we utilise them to unlock doors of opportunity. 

View all Off-White Fall 2022 looks below:

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