Female athetes win on Virgil Abloh’s runway


If putting on a show were an Olympic sport, Virgil Abloh would win the gold medal.

And since the fashion champ last presented a women’s collection for his brand Off-White in February, he has emerged even more victorious. Most notably, Abloh scooped one of the industry’s top jobs, becoming the first black creative director for menswear at Louis Vuitton. No small triumph for someone who only a couple of years ago was best known as Kanye West’s right-hand man and creative consultant.

In no time flat, Abloh has established himself as the preeminent streetwear-meets-ready-to-wear designer slash collaborator, dropping capsules with Converse, Warby Parker, Ikea and the list goes on. The man even has a collab with Moet & Chandon Nectar Impérial Rosé out in a few days; The bottle, stamped with signature quotes, cleverly advises “Do Not Drop.”

But I digress. Easy to do when talking about the busiest man in the business.

American 100-meter dash champ English Gardner (left), Hong Kong–based high jumper Cecilia Yeung, and French runner Rénelle LamoteGetty Images

At his show tonight in Paris, it seemed Abloh had learned a lesson from the near-riots that took place outside last season’s presentation on the Rue Cambon. This time, guests holding clear plastic invites were ushered through the throngs of fans and police officers, drama free.

The venue was designed as a track – a riff on the collection’s theme “Track and Field.” Seats were bleacher-style. And on the “field” – a grassy knoll – rested a clock that served as a timer. Literal? Yes. Brilliant? Double yes. Because literal done right is the name of Abloh’s game.

Virgil AblohGetty Images

With model and actress Cara Delevingne seated in the crowd, Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid opened the show together, pacing one another as they looped the track in sporty white shirts and minis with high heels. Kaia Gerber followed in a fencing-inspired getup. Soon after, Karlie Kloss covered ground in snakeskin-print pants and a graphic neon-and-black jacket.

Along with the supes strode real athletes: eight track-and-field stars including American 100-meter dash champ English Gardner, French runner Rénelle Lamote, British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith and heptathlete Nafissatou Thiam of Belgium. The medal-winners, some of whom are Olympians, debuted Abloh’s latest collaboration with Nike (crop tops! leggings! those pastel running sneakers!).

Against a soundtrack that included Beyonce’s “End of Time,” models wearing fanny packs (strapped around the thigh, hypebeasts take note), major tulle gowns (channeling the designer’s Off-White x Nike “Queen” collection for Serena Williams), and oversized denim completed the fusion of runway and street.

At the end, Abloh took a bow wearing a t-shirt that said “Watch Your Back.”

Which leaves us wondering: what could he possibly have up his sleeve?

By Anahita Moussavian

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