Virgil Abloh isn’t getting much sleep. This season, the designer is making his debut as men’s wear designer for Louis Vuitton, in addition to presenting his men’s and women’s resort collections for Off-White. Oh, and there’s the small matter of an exhibition at the Gagosian gallery in Paris with Takashi Murakami.
“I know it’s not healthy and all, but my brain is more at ease when each creative project has its own narrative and is resolved. So I don’t know what’s better: sleep, or that these projects are all launching,” he said.
His designs for Off-White women hold a special place in that ecosystem. “I have a chip on my shoulder: people think that Off-White is a teenage men’s brand. I do women’s wear to counterbalance that,” he explained.
Abloh described his resort lineup as a study in styling. “I was very much inspired by the girl that has everything — who grew up preppy, but is sort of over it. Preppiness as a tangible visual style is over, and it became over with streetwear,” he declared. The challenge now is to use “codes of preppy dressing, but in a modern street way.”
This young woman might steal her mother’s silk scarf, but she’ll wear it around her neck with pink sunglasses. Her version of a floral motif is a cotton bud pattern spliced with an industrial-feel triangular Off-White logo. The pattern appeared as a print on a floaty tea dress, or in a tough-glam metallic brocade on a pair of pants.
Then there were all the more obvious markers of the ath-leisure trend: tailored trousers made of yoga pant fabric; swimsuits worn as tops; a Nineties-inspired fire camouflage pattern, and stretchy knits, like a striped tube skirt with two matching bandeau tops that could be styled in several ways.
Judging from the near-riot that greeted Abloh’s last women’s runway show, these more commercial pieces will get snapped up by fans like Kendall Jenner, his date to the Met Gala last May. But Abloh isn’t happy just to surf on the hype.
“All of that energy at the last show means I have people’s attention — now I have to do the work,” he said. “I have to be extra sharp to bring something notable. The brands that came before, like Ralph Lauren or Chanel — that’s the apex.”