Off-White designer Virgil Abloh

MILAN — Off-White might show at Pitti Uomo in Florence on June 15, but it won’t be missing the chance to pepper Paris men’s fashion week, where the brand usually presents its collections.

On June 21, Off-White will inaugurate “Another First Show,” an exhibition hosted at the brand’s EMP TY Gallery, a temporary art space that will anticipate the debut of the permanent EMP TY Gallery opening in New York’s SoHo this summer.

“The concept that I’m debuting at Paris men’s fashion week is a project that I’ve been working on for one year and it’s called EM PTY Gallery,” said Off-White founder and creative director Virgil Abloh. “[‘Another First Show’] is a curator’s interpretation of the collection. A ‘ghost director,’ who is Piotr Niepsuj, interpreted my collection. And, you know, it’s out of my hands. He looked into my work and he chose how to distribute it, how to display it. There is also a video component, there are mannequins all the way down to security guards.”

As Polish photographer Niepsuj explained, EM PTY Gallery challenges the idea of a traditional Chelsea art gallery, with white walls, concrete flooring and only a few art pieces on show.

A selection of Off-White’s men’s spring 2018 collection will be displayed on mannequins and they will be juxtaposed against four videos, including one showing the brand’s upcoming Florence event to be developed in collaboration with artist Jenny Holzer.

“This project was born from my discussions with Virgil about the concept of exhibition,” Niepsuj said.

In addition, Abloh defined the “Another First Show” exhibition and the EM PTY Gallery as “my modern interpretation of a runway show,” he said. “I have taken the collection out of my hands, I have given it to a curator and now hundreds of kids in Paris can be there and hear and see it in a way that didn’t exist when I showed it.”

The designer also highlighted the democratic attitude of the exhibition, which will be open to the public for the entire duration of Paris men’s fashion week, until June 25.

“Fashion should be inclusive not exclusive. I have often been in a place where I’m not allowed to invite the youth to come to my fashion shows. I was the same kid who couldn’t get into fashion shows,” he said. “It’s the subculture that makes these clothes. I’m part of this subculture and, now that I made it, I see there are a lot of complexities, like security, that don’t allow that [to host shows open to he public] but I still feel the responsibility to sort of open them so kids can be part of the moment. This is the idea of EM PTY Gallery.”

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