If there was any doubt about just how popular Virgil Abloh and OFF-White are, it was quelled immediately with last night’s A/W 18 show. Hoards of individuals sporting the signature strap and orange tag queued in anticipation of Abloh’s latest collection. Some had tickets, some were just there to catch a glimpse. It was a total scrum to get into the space, people were scrambling, police picking people off the floor. Who else can you say receives such a reaction? It’s celebrity hysteria. People are clambering for both the clothes and the man behind the quotation marks.
Once inside the number of attendees was staggering. Standing audience members were piled on top of cameramen, who were then piled on top of each other, fumbling into the catwalk. The lady next to me couldn't see a jot because of the swathes of streetwear enthusiasts stood to her left, and I had my bun continuously patted as the person behind leered for a photo. It was utterly bananas but I suppose that's why we were all there - not just to unpick the clothes but to unpick the atmosphere, to be a part of the buzz and hum.
Abloh had been looking to the "West Village" this season, an area in NYC known for its celebrity heavy demographic, for shopping, dining and art. It's an affluent area, The Whitney is just on the cusp, and it’s become one of the most expensive areas to live in the United States. An interesting reference point, particularly as it seems appropriating the working class has become such a common and unfortunate trope of streetwear.
You could see the New York lady who lunches in many of these looks; the stiff pashmina, the floral printed shirt dress, the rubberised Chelsea boot-silk-scarf hybrid, one thought of the bohemian artsy clientele who own and love brownstone too.
Jodhpur-like trouser, a horse emblazoned t-shirt, knee-high riding boots and an embroidered scene of a jumping show pony on suit, coat and dress, alluded to a woman who can ride, perhaps she even owns her own stable. Neoprene all-in-ones, swimsuit cuts and piped scuba polo necks (which felt a little Prada) told me that this woman might have a boat too, or at least a beach-side spot in the Hamptons. Abloh was pointing to an older, affluent shopper, the West Village woman in her forties who’s got time and money for leisure, activities, style. Despite the suiting on offer, one got the impression that she is not a working woman. But how does that relate to the young audience that were lunging through the rows?
Perhaps it was the air of Gossip Girl about this collection that will appeal to the younger audience? Abloh's peachy toned cascading tulle dresses hinted at a debutante Blair Waldorf, as too did the new sunglasses collaboration with Sunglass Hut. Or perhaps this collection was created with his celebrity friends and clients in mind? They are certainly West Village, and once they're seen wearing the latest looks, the younger clientele swarm. Either way, Abloh's hysterical hoards continue.