Off-White™ Fall/Winter 2020, Paris Fashion Week
The Off-White™ FW20 collection was shown in Paris this morning, kicking off the second day of Paris Fashion Week. Titled "TORNADO WARNING," the name recalls a memorable 2017 interview between Virgil Abloh and Hans Ulrich Obrist, whereby he told the Swiss art critic and curator: "I work in a collaborative tornado every day."
Abloh's first collaboration for Fall/Winter 2020 was a mesmerizing tap dance from choreographer Cartier Williams, who opened the show to Michael Kiwanuka's "Solid Ground" in a pair of black stonewash denim jeans, patent red-laced tap shoes, and a white T-shirt declaring "I Support Young Black Businesses."
The absence of Abloh's signature air quotes is refreshing here. In a way, the designer's meta-references and slightly affected obsession with quotation marks has come full circle. We could suppose that now, by wearing/buying this Off-White™ T-shirt, you are supporting a young black business. No air quotes necessary. Is sincerity trending for FW20?
The experimental fabric treatments are key to this collection. Shirts are ruched with ribbons hanging down below the waist, contrasting old-timey renaissance style with pop art acrylic colors. The slouchy silhouettes paired with avant-garde blazers feels aligned with the new wave of menswear that has grown up from the vestiges of the hype-driven streetwear culture of the 2010s, the same one that Abloh championed and pushed into the mainstream.
Unlike his contemporaries who mine the undergrounds of niche worlds for inspiration, Abloh has no qualms in shooting for the familiar cultural references — think of Princess Diana for SS18 or James Dean for SS19 — because of how he remixes them and puts them in a context you could never expect. Case in point for FW20: Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, whose demure smile appeared on a black necktie. The print looked out of focus, as if you've stumbled into the Louvre drunk or hungover, or maybe just too busy rushing around to actually stop and look, leaving you with a blurry snapshot on your phone.
The cyclonic sense of rushing around could also be felt from the way the garments sat on the body: the affected textures, the hanging strings, and the high-rise polo necks. The collection conveys the feeling of someone trying to stay calm during a frenetic episode.
The tornado emoji — which Alboh uses as a signature on Instagram comments and in his captions — is the perfect sigil for Abloh's creative energy, and indeed his FW20 collection for Off-White™, which maintains its grip on the culture with a rotational, self-sustaining kind of energy.
“This collection is one of my favorite yet. The warm, wearable tones make these pieces essential and timeless. Small details like the cutout tags on the sleeve show [Virgil's] branding skills staying consistent, even with a more neutral pallet.” - Jessie Andrews, entrepreneur and designer
“It was my favorite Off-White show I've seen in the past three seasons. [Virgil] scaled back in terms of set design and theatrics and it benefitted in all aspects of the show.” - Savannah White, stylist
Highsnobiety Shopping List
Air Jordan 5
It's been 30 years since the iconic Air Jordan 5 was released. The rumors that Abloh would be designing one for the 30th anniversary were finally confirmed today, with similar circular cut-outs to match the blazers. Check out more details here.
These forest green pants are a worthy, and arguably more contemporary rebuke to Issey Miyake's monopoly on the pleated pant game.
Sleeveless 3D Knitwear
Off-White™'s FW20 palette was mostly a scorched brown and copper tone affair, so this piece of electrifying blue knitwear with a three dimensional arrow logo was a real stand-out. Ideally styled as it was in the show with matching blue leather pants and a burgundy bag.