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What Off-White™ is becoming after Virgil Abloh

The creature of the great designer, even without its creator, is ready to take flight

What Off-White™ is becoming after Virgil Abloh The creature of the great designer, even without its creator, is ready to take flight

The Off-White™ show held yesterday at the Palais Brongniart in Paris at the opening of fashion week, was a rather sentimental moment. One of Virgil Abloh's most anticipated posthumous fashion shows, which died in November after leaving the teams of its brands a huge mass of information, sketches, ideas and concepts, that of Off-White™ should have answered the question «Who’s next?» which circulated within fashion circles for months after the sudden death of the designer. The answer to that question has not yet arrived, it is thought that, probably, as in the case of Margiela or Ann Demeulemeester, the brand's team will collectively sign the collections until a creative director arrives capable of following in the huge footsteps of Abloh and putting his hand on his legacy. Beyond the show, however, (or precisely about the show) the most moving part, in some ways, is that the FW22 fashion show seen yesterday marked a very important moment for the brand, which answered the question «What’s next?» announcing its expansion with a new high fashion line called >Than a Bride «created to upset the savoir faire of Haute Couture», the launch of a beauty line called Paperwork coming in the spring, a skiwear capsule and a collaboration with Church's – as well as the landing on TikTok.

This type of expansion is quite normal, in fact, for any luxury brand launched as Off-White™ but at the same time marks the passage of Virgil Abloh's creature from hype brand to cultural powerhouse that feeds not only on the cultural legacy of its founder, his approach to collaborations, his mindset in design,  of its entire mindset to tell the truth, stored in a huge stream of Whatsapp messages, personal archives and not present on various platforms to «define a universal language that transcends cultural parameters and opens the conversation to everyone». Before his tragic death, Abloh was one of the most powerful creatives in fashion, sitting at a table very high in the internal hierarchy of LVMH that last July had also taken over 60% of its brand. Off-White™, however, despite having come to have a prominent position in the programming of Paris Fashion Week, and despite having already presented very successful lifestyle collaborations had not yet expanded to a global commercial empire as suggested by the double repositioning in high fashion and beauty. In addition, the collaboration with Church's adds a new layer to Abloh's work – almost as if to say that, in addition to the classic sneakers, the designer's aesthetics can also seamlessly include more high-ranking products such as English formal shoes or ceramics from a brand like Ginori (as we have seen in a recent collaboration).

The reason why Off-White™ can survive today, even without its creative director, is precisely because the brand works as a direct emanation of Abloh, it represents a practical demonstration of his method: Virgil has always been very "authorial" but has always avoided being the one and only demiurge of his collections, preferring instead an open and collaborative approach that would bring his creatives and his other teams in such positions,  and with ideas and ideas such as to be able to develop one's own imagination, work with one's personality on a wider mindframe. The possibility of dialogue and collaboration, as well as an always burning and eclectic curiosity, are the true legacies of the Abloh brand that with this show has declared to the world that it can survive its creator, as well as being able to overcome itself, bringing the aesthetics of Abloh towards new territories and continue to tell, with a confident and confident voice,  and perhaps even choral, the story that Virgil had started in Milan many years ago. A message also repeated by the fragment of the interview with Pharrell of 2020 in which it was said:

«Share the codes… share the cheat codes. A lot of us had to figure it out ourselves… that’s where we go wrong».