Deciding to cast Yolanda Hadid for Off-White’s fall 2020 show in Paris was not just a clever marketing move. The former model’s return to the runway alongside her two daughters, Gigi and Bella, was PR gold: a moment guaranteed to make headlines, and more importantly, fill social media feeds, worldwide. But it was also designer Virgil Abloh’s way of marking Off-White’s direction. Despite the brand long being associated with youth and streetwear – let us not forget this is the very man that said streetwear is dead – Abloh wants to make it clear that his first child (the designer is now also creative director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear) is one that’s made to be worn by all ages.
In recent years, casting in fashion shows has become almost as important as the collections themselves. The choice of models is one of the easiest and most obvious ways designers can convey their message to consumers and editors, something proved with Fendi’s Milan Fashion Week show which was one of the most inclusive of the season and Tommy Hilfiger’s London show which showcased the brand’s laidback, urban aesthetic with the casting of New Zealand-born dancer Parris Goebel alongside Naomi Cambell. Notably, TommyNow didn’t just included the one Hijab-wearing model everyone knows, Halima, but two others as well.
For Off-White, Abloh tapped an array of powerful women and ’90s supers including Noémie Lenoir, Mariacarla Boscono, Carolyn Murphy, Isabeli Fontana and Karlie Kloss, who walked her first show of the season. Bella opened the show in a black dress comprised of a sheer pleated skirt, ruffles at one shoulder, and the hood and sleeve of a drawstring parka at the other, while her older sister Gigi closed it with a white tulle gown that transformed into a blue hoodie at the shoulder. After designing his close friend Hailey Baldwin’s wedding dress to Justin Bieber, could Abloh soon launch a bridal line?
In the middle of the two most in-demand models in the world came their mum, who has long been a fixture in the front row travelling alongside her daughters for shows in New York, London and Paris. Wearing a white leather tailored jacket and tailored black pants, Hadid took her first turn on the runway in 35 years, looking every bit like she never left and proving exactly where Bella and Gigi got it from (their mama).
Inspired by Hype Williams’ 1998 crime drama Belly, Abloh’s new collection included more cow print than any show this season, leather in bright blues, lime greens and shades of orange and suiting in black and white houndstooth.
Taking a step back from logos – the piece Yolanda wore and its black equivalent were the only to have graffiti-inspired embellishments -Abloh instead focused on more refined silhouettes in the form of slip dresses, pencil skirts and silk shirts. A notable tribute? Carolyn Murphy walking down the runway in a white cut-out dress reminiscent of the one she wore for Tom Ford’s breakthrough collection at Gucci for fall 1996.
For 2020, Abloh is stepping outside of his box – and he’s taking women of all ages with him.