“Slightly Off” was the working title for Virgil Abloh’s latest Off-White collection and, unfortunately, it was not his best effort.
The show, which unfurled across a vast concrete floor at the AccorHotels Arena, seemed to have a lot going for it: Not only Gigi and Bella Hadid, but their model mother Yolanda, too, together on the runway for the first time. The models circulated around derelict luxury cars that had been spliced length-wise or width-wise and stood on the sawed-off end. Sparkly confetti rained down on them just before the finale walk — a bit more Instagram gold.
And then there’s Abloh, whose frenetic creativity, erudite nature and keen antenna have made him a cultural ringleader for young generations. Backstage, dressed in a lumberjack shirt scattered with crystals, he talked about wanting to make his fall women’s collection for all ages, a mash-up spanning from technical outerwear and spray-painted leather to fantastical couture.
“It’s ageless, it’s exuberant, it’s youthful, no matter the practical number of age,” he enthused. “And also, you see a level of refinement, quality and luxury. There is a maturity that is a design tool that I’m playing with just as much as sneakers.”
The opening looks were promising: neat blouses, pencil skirts and simple woolen coats, some with a half belt of lasagna ruffles. A long, narrow coat and skirt in a warped houndstooth were cool, even if they owed a debt to Lee Alexander McQueen, who seems to be on many designers’ minds this season.
Unfortunately, this ladylike polish wasn’t sustained as the collection veered off in multiple directions, with cow prints, bits of military, graffiti and neon. Abloh has such a freewheeling approach to clothes that he can plop the hood and one sleeve of an Arc’teryx anorak over a pyramid of tulle. He left it to Gigi to work that look.