For his Pitti Uomo guest slot, Virgil Abloh took over the forecourt of Florence’s Palazzo Pitti, a feat of Versaille-like proportions, and serenaded them with a performance by the Florence Opera. But, just as the crowd was settling into their seats facing the site, the designer jolted them into reality with a series of poems that scrolled down the walls, recounting harrowing individual experiences of war and migration.
As a son of immigrants from Ghana, it’s a subject close to Abloh’s heart, and his desire to promote awareness about those themes pushed him to team with American artist Jenny Holzer. When the models eventually walked out, eyes darted between the clothes and the poems, creating an uneasy tension.
On the runway, Abloh stayed to true his progressive streetwear DNA with a collection centered on high-tech athletic silhouettes. LED displays were incorporated into trenchcoats and double-breasted jackets in retro floral upholstery fabrics, offering a new take on tailoring while losing none of the street cred that Off-White is known for. Blazers revealed zipper details on the back, while pants were cut in generous proportions for a Nineties feel.
Playing with different textures and weights, the designer also delivered easy-breezy trenches made of technical nylon, as well as terrycloth shorts and a blanketlike cape with a tactile appeal. Coated finishings and neon accents fed the high-tech vibe.
Raw denim jeans had a slightly old-school feel that also informed the crisp shirts tucked into high-waisted pants and accessorized with tiny cross-body bags and vintage cameras — a chic option for contemporary bloggers and street-style photographers.
Whether there was any connection between the runway and the writing on the wall was a question that hung in the air. The show notes were also inconclusive: “The clothes themselves are deconstructed, intellectualized garments that subvert the expectation and become blank canvases upon which the context of the wearer can be projected.”
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