Abloh certainly creates a good set – a selection of Mercedes cars, chopped in half, horizontally and vertically, were the focal point of a group of squares around which his cast walked in his latest show. Not quite John Chamberlain, but pretty darned good.
Intense cameramen with Steadicams recorded each passage of an impressive cast inside the Marcel Cerdan boxing arena in eastern Paris, few causing such a ripple of excitement as Yolanda Hadid, the 56-year-old mum of Bella and Gigi, strolling proudly by in a white blazer with gray graffiti smears, one of several in that style.
Her youngest daughter Bella had made the first passage in a stiff black mock–Elizabethan dress with elaborate neck ruff and collar her bosoms flaring. Robert Dudley would have been pleased, as she made for a great opening. Big sister Gigi took the final walk-by in an assemblage of Faerie Queene gown dissected at 45 degrees by a sporty ultramarine parka. No wonder the designer entitled this Fall/Winter 2020-21 collection “Slightly Off.”
Virgil has always loved a cut-out, and did Swiss cheese versions of white knit or cotton tops and dresses – not entirely happily on Carolyn Murphy – and cutaway trenches, so one could see large bloomers on the likes of Mariacarla Boscono. His other big idea was Friesian cowhide skirts, pants and raincoats in an Egyptian blue and white. There are those who feel that Virgil shops a little too much for ideas – but all of the above were very much his own notions.
This designer earns a very good living at night as a DJ, and his soundtrack was the best in Paris so far: jazz drama from the likes of Chick Corea and Yussef Dayes. Though those of us who have tried to dance to his DJing at fashion parties have found that trickier.
All told, a thoroughly respectable runway performance and collection, though certainly no paradigm-busting moment. Especially in a week when The New York Times speculated in a long article that Virgil Abloh might be this generation’s Karl Lagerfeld, albeit in a story written with a large pinch of salt. On the grounds that Karl, like Virgil, was a multi-tasking jack of all trades, who sold his services to multiple brands.
No one can question Abloh’s undoubted commercial appeal, it’s his quality, range and soul that is in doubt. And sense of modesty. Lagerfeld was quite possibly the most calculating individual in fashion history, but also an individual without false airs of grandeur. As someone, who knew him for three decades, I cannot recall him ever referring to himself as an artist. That’s not something one can say about Virgil Abloh.
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