ROCK STAR: A queue of people was snaking all along the Rue Dauphine, as if they were waiting for a rock concert or the latest Supreme drop. The reason behind the crowd was a mix of both: Virgil Abloh was in town.
The designer unveiled Efflorescence on Tuesday evening, a new furniture collection in collaboration with Galerie Kreo, on show in Paris until April 10. But inside the packed venue, the gaggle of overexcited teenage boys — the majority demographic that evening — barely cast an eye on the exhibited pieces.
“Virgil, can you sign my sneaker?” asked one of them. The designer obliged, and the boy whooped with unsuppressed mirth upon discovering the “Virgil Abloh” inscription — complete with signature quote marks — on the shoe’s sole.
Kids of all ages inched up to Abloh to take a picture, show him a project or get him to listen to a track on their phone. The designer, founder of Off-White and creative director of Louis Vuitton men’s, wearing a monogrammed shell jacket, oversize sunglasses and black nail polish, posed, took business cards and Instagram handles, and bopped his head approvingly to the proffered tunes.
“That one is my favorite,” he said, ever courteous, to a teenage girl who was showing him her drawings on her phone, explaining the meaning behind them in a voice that was barely a whisper over the din of the room.
Abloh paused during the spontaneous meet-and-greet to hug friends and well-wishers, including Sarah Andelman and her mother Colette Roussaux, photographer Juergen Teller, A.P.C.’s Jean Touitou and designer Reese Cooper.
“Concrete is a universal material, you can make it all over the world,” said the designer about the material he chose for the collection of furniture pieces: a long bench inspired by skate ramps, blocks of concrete transformed into chairs, and planters filled with blooms by Paris-based florist Castor Fleuriste. All were sprayed with graffiti by Abloh himself. “It has a strong, emotional connection,” he continued.
In addition to the concrete furniture, the collection features steel mirrors with the same gruyere-like holes dotting the surface. “It relates to my reluctance to ever judge a book by its cover,” explained Abloh.
After collaborating with Ikea and Vitra as well as designing his own show props, such as the oversized park benches on which guests sat at the Louis Vuitton men’s spring 2020 show, is he planning on launching his own collection one day?
He replied with his signature long “yeaaaaah.” “I’ve been doing furniture since I was in college,” said the designer, who earned a masters degree in architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology. “So it’s been 20 years that I’ve been making objects, long before fashion. I’ve lost count of the furniture collaborations I’ve done, but I’m most proud of this one.”
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