People seated around today’s Off-White runway may not have realized that the sharp green staging allowed landscape images to be superimposed on the background of the livestream, almost like a high-concept weather report. In calling this show “Public Television,” Virgil Abloh said he was making the point that, at least for those of us who grew up watching TV, the barrage of ads and images were actually forming our environment and shaping our view of the world. Conceivably, the same remains true whether our screens are handheld or wall size. But instead of dwelling on the deleterious effects, Abloh—whose chill factor is off the charts—channeled this subliminal influence with his own heavily branded programming.
This made for a pretty good show, partly because, like all good TV, it was entertaining. From the opening sample of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood to the rhymes of Ghostface Killah, the music calibrated friendly with raw. Though mostly meaningless, the use of football helmets—especially on two girls in floral catsuits—made for catchy social media posting. And then there was Offset from the rap group Migos, who shuffled down an earthy path in a full-length, lilac-hued puffer coat like a winterized guru.
None of this distracted from a collection that largely reaffirmed the standard Off-White repertoire rather than aiming for reinvention. Looks that paired boxy, deconstructed blazers with pooling denim or minimalist jackets with graphic streetwear once again toggled between Abloh’s youth and executive archetypes. A fleece pullover countered with a fur-collared coat; ties appeared under shirt hoodies. “You get better through repetition, more focused,” Abloh said. “I’m finding my voice, which is what happens when you repeat.”
Maybe this voice will always bear traces of others (he openly credited JNCO jeans for the baggy pants, while his co-opted shipping logo looked flagrantly familiar). Yet there were details that could win over devotee and doubter alike. The belt bags fused to the fronts of quilted jackets and vests were clever; the embroidered tagging, TV-bar motifs, and spray-painted faded knees on pants, creative. And what to make of the large labels sewn onto sleeves—the kind that guys occasionally, embarrassingly, neglect to remove? Obviously, they become another form of broadcasting; medium and message combined.