There are moments when you’ll be told to stop playing games, to grow up. At this moment, where quiet luxury abounds, Off-White™ argues otherwise. The argument in question is that when it comes to our wardrobes, to slay, perhaps we need to embrace a little less work and a little more play. Bursting the bubble of Parisian solemnity with some much-needed “capital-F” Fun, the Maison presented its Fall/Winter 2024 collection at Paris Fashion Week yesterday. House codes, gender codes, and tailoring codes were all subject to the roll of Creative Director Ib Kamara’s imaginative dice. Men were softened, cutesy-ed up; women were toughened, bossed-up. Americana references skipped on house codes and landed on cross collars and straps. Whimsicality ensued, three-fold.
Like the models traversing spaces on its Ludo gameboard-turned-runway, the collection, too, was guided by a nomadic spirit. Dubbed “BLACK BY POPULAR DEMAND” (emphatic caps lifted straight off the show notes), Off-White™’s latest collection reflected on cultural cross-pollination in an increasingly globalized fashion circuit.
“The spark of this collection was ignited in Japan when I was struck at once by the magic and grace of local traditions and the big influence Americana has had on the country’s culture. I reflected on how much American culture, and from that Western culture, has been influenced by Black culture,” said Kamara. “Our work this season is an homage to such enduring and traveling influences from a joyous and playful angle.”
The tilt was indeed joyous. Vivid hues pulsed with energy as strap-heavy ensembles evocative of those donned by cybergoths in heady warehouses were softened with plush furs and shimmering textiles. Spindly cuissardes emerged from beneath bold stripes. It was all very frisky and very fun. Though the clothes were no doubt bestowed with child-like wonder (peep the whimsical hodgepodge of arrows, dice, butterflies, and stars on prints), it wasn’t so much kid-core as the collection waxed post-modern cyber glam, with deconstructed elements harking back to, as Kamara put it, the “urge to wrap fabric around the body.”
For menswear, silhouettes were widened to embrace languorous shapes, giving a subtle nod to the free-flowing fashions of the ‘90s. Enlivened with Jolly buttons, cardigans brought a touch of prep to the mix, as did rugby polos. Partnering with Wilson, the house hit full-send on rebooting its sportswear DNA with basketball-derivative creations. And while they weren’t bouncing in the literal sense, they did bounce with a certain athletic brio as basketball holders-turned-handbags and deconstructed basketballs-turned-padded sneakers were sent down the runway.
“In my vision, Off-White™ stands on its own, in a niche of luxury that is not quiet, and not even loud, but playful,” said Kamara—and rightly so. As the name suggests, Off-White is a house whose vision doesn’t linger on polarities. Not quite maximalist, not quite minimalist, its identity lingers in that sweet gray area right in between.