Fashion editors, bloggers, photographers and buyers cried “Bonjour Paris” Wednesday as the first full day of menswear fashion shows kicked off in the French capital. Edgy brand Off-White drew renewed attention at its show, thanks to the meteoric rise of its African-American designer Virgil Abloh — now chief of Louis Vuitton menswear.
Some highlights of the spring and summer menswear shows:
PROUD FAMILY AT OFF-WHITE
The parents of American-Ghanaian designer Virgil Abloh were the image of pride as they sat front row at Off-White — the Milan-based house their son founded in 2013 — in the sweltering Palace of Chaillol that overlooks the Eiffel Tower.
They had jetted to Paris for the first time from Rockford, Illinois to support their son, who on Thursday debuts his wares at the Louis Vuitton show. He’s the first African-American to head up a major global design house.
“It’s unbelievable. We’re so proud of him. Very incredible,” said his mother Eunice Abloh, who sat next to her husband Nee. “We flew in. We’re being treated very well. It’s my first time in Paris — and it’s beautiful,” she added.
OFF-WHITE’S BLUE DENIM
Denim, denim and then more denim.
That was the formula employed at the Milan-based house for spring-summer to produce a hip, urban, loose and highly masculine aesthetic. Steel-blue denim opened the show. A denim shirt with frayed sleeve edges sported utilitarian metal zippers and was accessorized with a jangling key chain, while the hem down denim pants curved round, instead of vertically down, in a hip-hop style.
Oversize white T-shirts with logos, retro sneakers and an oversize color-blocked, tie-dye style coat added an on-trend whiff of the ‘80s in the collection that never forgot to have fun. White confetti fell from snow machines at one point to a slurred remix of Bing Crosby’s “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” prompting chuckles from front row attendees who saw irony at the snowfall during a spring-summer collection, in the sweltering Paris heat, in which many of the models were topless. The collection stood out for using models from different ethnic backgrounds — sadly, a rarity for many Paris shows.
The edgy styles of Off-White that have garnered Abloh a cult-like following attract diverse guests.
Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami — who’s famed for blurring the lines between high- and low-art and whom Christie’s ranks as the sixth highest-selling living artist — said he attended the show to support his friend.
“Virgil and I we’ve got a really good friendship. That’s why I’m here. But I’m very much excited about Vuitton,” he said from beneath an oversize silver toggle hat. Murakami said that Abloh’s appointment will be positive for the industry as his aesthetic is inclusive, and added it’s a good direction for fashion to have an African-American at the helm of the major brand. “It’s much more democratic so young people can get involved more and more,” he said.
FACETASM’S BRIDAL WORKMAN
Designer Hiromichi Ochiai didn’t disappoint those expecting the wackily-creative from Japanese house Facetasm. The fashion-forward designer’s touchstone of workman’s clothes was given an unusual bridal twist in Wednesday’s collection that mixed mens’ and women’s styles, as well as punk, preppy and eclectic aesthetics.
One of the first looks showcased on a female model was a hybrid between a workman’s overall — with big utilitarian pocket — and a white tulle bridal gown. The model’s hair channeled Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” styles, worn with voluminous ‘80s earrings, and evoked a punk going down the church aisle.
Elsewhere, a blue navy shirt had the oversize silhouette of a worker’s top, yet was gently perforated like lace. It was a clever touch that demonstrates why Ochiai commands a strong following. The Tokyo-founded company has won plaudits for its conceptual styles with hints of punk.