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What went down at Off-White SS19 show

Virgil brought out Swooshes and big tulle gowns on the catwalk

What went down at Off-White SS19 show Virgil brought out Swooshes and big tulle gowns on the catwalk

After behind the scenes photos, Instagram posts and Ig stories from the atelier, yesterday night we finally saw the Off-White SS19 by Virgil Abloh collection during the PFW

The show was entitled "Track and Field" and starting from the invitations to the show the inspiration was clear: instead of the classic envelopes, Abloh made some real functional bibs, the ones athletes wear during competition attached with safety pins to the uniforms. The confirmation arrived just by looking at the set of the show, the catwalk was a real running track, with grass clippings, electronic leader-board with names and nationalities of the athletes (in this case, models) and a timekeeper. "Track and Field" is also the name of Nike's apparel and footwear line dedicated to athletics, especially with sneakers designed for the track, and the Swoosh played an important role in this show. 

As Abloh himself wrote on Instagram, the aim of this collection was celebrating women runners all across the globe, that's why he chose a quite unique cast of models. Along with the dear friends Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner (who opened the show together), and Kaia Gerber, Karlie Kloss, Jourdan Dunn and Bianca Balti (who had officially retired from the catwalks), Abloh enlisted real-life Nike athletes, eight Olympic medal winners, like the sprinter Dina Asher-Smith (UK), the Colombian champion Caterine Ibarguen and the heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson (UK). Abloh wanted in some ways celebrate also his dear friend and best tennis player in the world Serena Williams, with a pale-blue stretch dress with a diagonally-sliced tulle skirt, the haute couture version of the uniform worn by Williams during the last US Open. 

All the 48 looks of the collection were on the line between the purest sportswear and the concept of a truly wearable fashion. You'd go from ethereal see-through shirts paired with tailored pants, to real running leggings coordinated with white blazers, lace jacket and shorts came before proper running bodysuits. Abloh seems to have followed the lesson of Margiela, the first to use socks to make knitwear: Kaia Gerber, in fact, walked in a top made of cut-up Nike socks, a process used also for other pants. This top, though, reminded us a lot of a creation designed by Mini Swoosh, a real master when it comes to juxtaposing different fabrics and Swooshes, and posted on her Instagram months ago. 

The show opened with a series of white looks, that would change in fabric, shade or texture, to then move on to black, used for running (Nike Pro) garments, or for coordinated pants and vest with the maxi logo; after the grey denim pieces came the neon yellow, that at the end turned into a reptile prints with black grains, which covered jackets, mini dresses, long shirts, miniskirts, oversized pants, to finally give a pop of color in the last look of the show, a dramatic black tulle gown. 

 

The real stand out pieces of the collection were probably the accessories. First of all the reptile gloves, then the earrings that are actually small buckles, iridescent waist bags and the mini ones strapped around the thigh. The focus was, of course, on the shoes. Besides the Zoom Fly, the classic running shoe reworked by Off-White, Abloh gave life to the new sneaker, the "Waffle Racer": the eclectic designer wanted a shoe that looked like a sample, with a collage, hand-sewn look. Furthermore, the sneaker has a function in its soles, so that it tells you how far you’ve run. When the studs start to wear down, it’s ten miles, 30 to the next layer, 75 to the next. Virgil ventured also into the world of high heeled shoes, with flip-flop stilettos, the famous Shoelaces, always with the Red Tag. 

The feeling, at the end of the show, is that Off-White without Nike would not exist, or, better, that Off-White could be considered the luxury line of the sportswear giant. The most interesting looks were, in fact, the ones that played on the contrast between sporty items and more refined looks, fit for a fashion show, an aesthetic that has always been part of Off-White's DNA, which turned it into its symbol, strength, or as in this case, weakness. Virgil did not manage to renovate and brought to the catwalk trends already seen and existing, like the waistbags, the snakeskin print or the neon colors, while the most basic items were livened up by the classic logo or the beloved writings. The whole hype revolving around the sportswear world and, more generally, the special attention dedicated to this kind of fashion we owe to Virgil, who before anyone else realized that the future of fashion was sport. Years went by and sportswear has become the most influential trend of the decade. Abloh is trying to further evolve the concept of technical apparel, but, at least for this season, he's failed, designing items that weren't innovative nor amazing. It's not enough to put a Swoosh on a T-shirt or write "LOGO" on a top to make a collection convincing and powerful.