Does today’s working girl have a uniform? If the Eighties were all about power dressing, office dress codes have become much more blurred in the 21st century. Virgil Abloh took staples like men’s shirts and pin-striped suits as the premise for his Off-White collection, which he titled “Business Woman.”
“It’s inspired by my friends who are sort of like the New Age girl — I wouldn’t even say ‘woman,’” he explained backstage. “You know, it’s like, they pay their own bills, they dress the way they want to dress, they don’t necessarily need a guy for approval, they don’t need their job for a sense of worth.
“It’s about doing a collection that embraces this empowered woman — her ability to not to be boxed in by what she’s wearing,” Abloh added.
He opened with variations on striped shirts, ranging from a ruffled elastic-waisted crop top to slim tunic styles that were fitted around the chest. Then came tailored jackets with a twist — a scarlet blazer was paired with track pants, while another was made of two halves of different colors and lengths.
For after-work cocktails and client dinners, his boss ladies ramped up the luxe factor with short dresses in black or purple satin with opulent tiered ruffles. A purple satin one-shouldered jumpsuit, worn with a white leather belt bag, melded glamour and ease.
Abloh noted that today’s working women don’t necessarily stick to a nine-to-five schedule. For downtime, options included his trademark hoodies, flowing pants with colorful dip-dyed stripes and pin-striped jeans – the fruit of his ongoing collaboration with Levi’s.
The streetwear star, who is also Kanye West’s creative director, has made great strides since launching his first label Pyrex Vision in 2012 with a handful of screen-printed flannel shirts. This season, his ideas are more coherent and the fabrications more polished. The brand is launching handbags for spring and gaining mainstream recognition, with even Céline Dion joining the ranks of its fans.
“Here is a conscious effort to be more concise,” he said of his latest effort. “I’m not at a point, self-critical-wise, where I want to be, but I know what I don’t know.” And that might be the greatest difference between Abloh and West, who attended the show for the first time this season with the Kardashian clan in tow.
West has a huge platform for his Yeezy label, while Abloh has been forced to take the humble route. Ironically, he is winning what the rapper craves the most: the industry’s approval.