To open Paris Fashion Week, Off-White staged its first runway show since founder Virgil Abloh’s death in November.
Virgil Abloh left us with a full plate of food for thought when he died in November after a roughly two-year private battle with cardiac angiosarcoma. Abloh’s breadth of creative genius made a 160-page Abloh-isms book feel criminally short.
Paris Fashion Week opened Monday, Feb. 28, and Off-White held its first runway show since Abloh’s passing, titled Spaceship Earth, an “Imaginary Experience.” His lingering presence was unmistakable.
Introducing the streetwear-turned-luxury brand’s Fall/Winter 2022 collection, the show unveiled what is “reportedly the final collection Abloh oversaw.”
White flags with “QUESTION EVERYTHING” written in black intermingled on the open-space runway under decadent chandeliers with supermodels such as Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Kaia Gerber, Bella Hadid, Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, and Debra Shaw.
Abloh’s influence was never pigeonholed to fashion, so it was only right that the show transformed into models the likes of skateboarder Ishod Wair, rapper/record executive Jim Jones, and Serena Williams.
Firsts are hard to come by for the 23-time major tennis champion Williams at this point of her storied career, but per ESPN, walking for Off-White was the first time she has ever strutted a runway as a model for a major luxury fashion brand during fashion month. (It happened to coincide with sister Venus being named Lacoste’s Global Ambassador.)
Spaceship Earth was soundtracked, in part, by a soundbite from a previous Pharrell interview that rings especially poignant in Abloh’s absence:
“I think the universe puts us in this position because it knows that we are gonna give back. It knows that we are gonna take our experiences and share the codes with our other brothers and sisters, and that’s the reason why. Maybe somebody else might not have wanted to share the codes. … It’s only until you start feeling lucky that someone pulls you aside and gives you the codes.
“Why should we feel lucky that our brother or our sister is sharing the codes? That’s something wrong with the culture. So, for me, I know it’s my duty. I know I’m not just having these experiences because my own glorification or my own enjoyment. It’s because I’m meant to share the codes.”
Nobody will ever be able to replicate Abloh’s innovative vision and subsequent production to push forward culture across industries. But he did leave the codes. According to Off-White CEO Andrea Grilli, he did so literally.
“The number of ideas that we have directly from him — that were unmanageable on a daily, weekly and monthly basis [through WhatsApp] — it’s endless,” Grilli recently told Business of Fashion (h/t Highsnobiety). “This is the legacy that we’re going to build around.”
With Spaceship Earth in Paris, Off-White — and posthumously, Abloh — showed that it still aims to take us to the moon. Watch the full show below.