Virgil Abloh Returns With “Laboratory of Fun” For Off-White
First in-person runway show in 16 months
It’s been over a year since designers could host a IRL runway show and we’ve been itching, waiting for their grand return. Virgil Abloh revealed the Off-White Fall/Winter 2021 Collection during Haute Couture week in Paris after 16 months of being deprived of doing anything in-person. Creating a see-now, buy-now collection named “Laboratory of Fun”, the fan favorite designer did not come to play.
“Shit is about to get crazy or as they say in french “ça va être folle”” said the announcer in a socal voice as Bella Hadid opened the show on a school gym-themed stage in an electrifying royal blue sheath dress with matching knee-high boots.
As the mask wearing invitees watched while recording the show with their phones, supermodels Amber Valletta, Joan Smalls, Candice Swanepoel, Alton Mason, Georgina Grenville, and Honey Dijon walked out in gray tailored skirt suits, orange strapless dress with a high-slit, a royal blue (on theme color) full-length evening dress with exposed extra fabric cinching the body, and an orange monochromatic leather maxi-length coat, pants, and shoes.
Harkening back to his formal training as an architect, the collection provides an aesthetically linear and structure-driven approach. The product design, using a color palette inspired by Dieter Rams’s Braun products, featured tools cleverly embedded in accessories: aluminum keys for heels, a single nail stabbed through a puffy leather bag. The exceptionally constructed collection consisted of bold blues and toned down grays, with a mixture of houndstooth and multicolored abstract prints on various pieces.
Halfway through the show, Tamil dancers in tonal bra tops and cargo pants accompany M.I.A. as she performs hits such as “Paper Planes” while wearing an Off-White cream oversized suit. Abloh explained the team-up in an interview with WWD: “She’s an artist that’s known for speaking her stance on global issues and I wanted to make a safe space for her to do her art and pair it together with what Off-White™ stands for. It’s about representing a young generation, it’s not about selling clothes.”
The ready-to-wear collection, immediately ready to buy online, presented both women’s and men’s simultaneously. “I’ve always believed in diversity on all ends of the spectrum. Age, gender, orientation—when it comes to representing that, you know we’re across that as best we can” said Abloh on the generation he is designing for.
Abloh wants to break out from what Off-White came to be so famously known for, a youth label bringing streetwear to high fashion. Now he is ready for the brand to evolve into adulthood, just like Abloh is. “If I were to look at my body of work, I think I’ve grown up the most in the shortest amount of time. I think it’s rebelling against the younger version of myself. And that’s the first time I’ve actually said that.”
In the brand’s transition to adulthood, Abloh took the globally identifiable Off-White logo (cross and arrow) and minimized it in a black and white logo print; a print that has shaken up the well-established Parisian fashion houses forever.
Collectively all at once, the jack of all trades opened Off-White’s Paris flagship store, hosted “Imaginary FM” where Abloh’s been broadcasting talks and music, and somehow has found the time to throw an epic runway show just within a couple of days from each other.
This is the beginning of a new era for Abloh and Off-White, but what still remains the same is the fact that Abloh always remembers where he comes from and how he started as a designer.
To see the full collection, watch Off-White’s “LABORATORY OF FUN” show down below. If you spot anything you like, head over to Off-White.com