Off-WhiteTM proudly debuts the “CELEBRATION” collection at Paris Fashion Week. The collection is a celebration of freedom to dream, create, and choose.
“This collection is just Off-WhiteTM expressing itself; it needs craftsmanship and artistry, and we’re experimenting and trying new things. Virgil has made Off-WhiteTM a space for complete expression and disruption, and I am following in his footsteps with purpose and intention. In a way, this show is a celebration of him, the house he has left behind and the house it will be—what the house can do and the talent in it.” Ibrahim Kamara
Progress is in process. We’re in transition and opening the doors of possibility. In the months leading up to this point, periods of reflection have shone a light on what was in anticipation of what follows.
Off–WhiteTM “defined the grey area between black and white”. It was the space where Virgil explored nuances and challenged notions of luxury through style and dress. In a way, it was a laboratory where a concoction of ideas could collide and spark conversations and thought. A curious and youthful spirit fuelled it from inception. Though a formally trained engineer and architect, Virgil willed his way into the fashion establishment and made room for his peers and collaborators. The door was always left open for anyone eager to follow the path he had paved while the worlds he built fascinated, educated, and inspired a generation to dream. Off–WhiteTM belonged to the culture as much as it was Virgil’s own, and over the decade since its founding, it has defined an era.
Now, in our hands, we are entrusted with a legacy that we must handle with care. And in the year since his passing, one question prevailed: where do we go from here? There are multiple doors with multiple possibilities.
Under Ibrahim Kamara, our new Image and Art Director, we are eager to explore them all whilst continuing to create and challenge in the vein of Virgil. We will use our imagination to dream up new worlds to experience. Right now, there is a regenerative spirit as we approach the cusp of something new. In the unknown, there is the freedom to imagine. Possibilities are boundless. This collection is a celebration of that alongside our freedom to dream, create, and choose. As it happens, tomorrow will mark Virgil’s 42nd birthday; this is a real celebration of our founder and all of his life’s work.
Coincidentally, this mood has fallen upon us as anti- abortion laws are being reinstated in real-time across America. In recognition of this, we’ve worked alongside Jenny Holzer, once again, on our staff shirts, a subtle redesign of her famous ’86 artwork ‘Abuse of Power Comes as No Surprise’ to a collaborative reframing ‘Abuse of Flower Comes as No Surprise’ in 2017. First coming together in 2016, amidst the wake of the migrant and refugee crisis, and as Black Lives Matter went global, Virgil utilised Jenny’s Truisms to address the negligence of governments and the dismissal of human rights. Today, we seek her voice as the overturning of Roe V. Wade signals yet another setback, with all proceeds of the t-shirt sale donated to Planned Parenthood.
Even when dreaming up new worlds, we must speak about the harsh realities of our present everyday lives.
Moving forward, our vision will remain uninhibited and regenerative. Our ideas will evade the binary in favour of the dynamic. This is a new beginning grounded in the ways of our modern master.
To start, this is not the end, and today we celebrate new work in process.
This is a celebration of life and new beginnings. We’re coming together and proposing a new idea of what luxury is and what it has the potential to be. We have approached the clothes and the entire performance from a new perspective.
We have found strength in delicacy. There is a sense of nurturing and nourishing the mind and its senses. Floral has become a common thread throughout this collection, appearing across a variety of our group of core fabrications, including lace, double bonded calfskin and silk virgin wool. A pivotal moment for us is our second- skin bases crafted from silk organza and adorned with three-dimensional petals. Flowers appear to creep up the body towards the ear as if our minds are in bloom.
We are drawn to an “Impossible Blue” due to its characteristic warmness as opposed to the typical coldness of blue. It is a
soothing colour that defines the collection, so its presence is seen throughout. It’s a shade Virgil was frequently drawn to, appearing on everything from Bella Hadid’s opening look for FW21 to his essential volume “Figures of Speech”. This is a colour of significance for our world and the community inhabiting it. Colours throughout have a restricted palette that acts as a grand leveller.
Our men’s and women’s looks are in conversation; they’re in correspondence. We’ve run with the idea that our men look like they’d catch the eye of our girls from across the room or vice versa. There is a collective spirit in this new world of young radicals. Like punks, they are architects in that they shape the world in their image and march to the beat of their drum. This is a community of independent thinkers but collective doers exploring and responding to the environment around them.
There is a balance between contrasts such as exposed and protective styles as well as our hard and softer styles. Bodycon knit dresses mix technical yarns with soft cashmere. Heavy Japanese denim and leather are combined with silk organza, chiffon and lace. Necklines stretch over the mouth across looks, providing a sense of uniformity that extends to our closing bridal look with its full lace half-face covering. We have a knitted covering with zipping detailing, a balaclava with the face revealed, and a heavy leather masking is contrasting softer organza and tailored lace. There is artisan stitching, cording applique and hand-cut layered silks. Generously cut workwear is developed in silk organza, whilst classic denim staples are designed in Silk Virgin wool.
"A WORK IN PROGRESS"
As we are in transition, some pieces are left deconstructed and exposed. Our tailoring is especially unfinished and features exposed lining and basting stitching. We’re undoing tailoring to find the body underneath as we uncover the structure and craftsmanship. We are visibly under construction as looks seemed to have been “paused” mid-fitting.
In our future, movement is a necessity. Seamless knitting was a great technique to achieve these sci-fi shapes that stretch over the body. We slashed and gashed styles at the hem so that they rolled up. We cut other styles and pulled them over the body so they could take their own shape on the wearer’s body. Following this concept of the human body and its rounded shapes, the circle has become a central theme in the collection, alongside stitching that mimics muscle shapes. Circular voids reveal contrasting materials all over the body, such as lace, which shapes and transforms the body. We’ve mixed cashmere yarns with polyester to create something chic and flexible. There is a slim proposition for knitwear with long-column dresses.
We have been playing with the proportions and scaling up and sizing down one of Virgil’s iconic house codes. Our holes appear throughout with cutouts around the stomach, revealing new materials such as lace. There is a sense of concealing and revealing, especially surrounding the more intimate and vulnerable body parts.
“There’s a narrative; there is a story. I like to tell stories, and I think Off WhiteTM should be able to tell stories and inspire people. It isn’t just about buying the clothes, anyone can sell you the bag of the month, but you need to come back to Off-WhiteTM because you are so aligned with what we do. Mentally, physically, and culturally invested because it’s a brand that you think nourishes you and brings the best out of you, and that’s what Virgil left behind. It’s a global brand for a generation.” Ibrahim Kamara