For his Fall/Winter 2020 womenswear collection, Virgil Abloh further develops Off-White’s codes with a sense of contemporary realism, beyond the hems of the fashion industry. He looks at the world at large.
To set the pace, Abloh ventured back to the nineties—a definitive sartorial era—by compiling references from then-ubiquitous minimal slip-dresses and bra tops to Hype Williams’s 1998 directorial film debut, Belly.
Williams is widely known for his innovative and Zeitgeist-capturing music videos, which blend technology, fashion, and uncompromising individuality; in Belly, keystone late nineties-era hallmarks like red leather Ecko puffers and original-design all-white Range Rovers take centerstage. The view towards a more recent nostalgia hints at a collective comfort regarding what has passed—especially when the future feels so unpredictable.
From there, Abloh used the nineties as a springboard for helping to define what Off-White will be in the 2020’s. His approach is one of calculated miscellany, mirroring the moment and pushing that moment forward.
Bookending his Fall runway were hybridized, high-volume dresses with Arc’teryx parkas. Myriad trenches came paired with trousers, which were generally long and lean, with breaks at the ankle. Holstein blot motifs walked alongside circular cutout separates; heavy chain elements were worked in as jewelry or dress adornments. Extra-tailored leather blazers featured spray-painted overlays.
Houndstooth patterns morphed into psychedelic pools on top-coats and skirts. An angular tulle wing-and-half-dress was worn over camouflage cargo pants. A collaboration with MGM studios led to a Blue Velvet-inspired capsule: a structured, off-the-shoulder dress in the fabric the movie is named for, along with mirror-ball metallic garments that channel Dorothy Vallens’s glitzier ensembles.
Akin to what’s happening in culture greater, we are now living in an era of openness, constant newness, hyper-information, and the pressing need for adaptability: “Reality,” says Abloh, “is the starting point of my type of storytelling.”