Paris Fashion Week: Off-White x Nike Caused a Fashion Riot

Photo: Vittorio Zunino (Celotto/Getty Images)

Paris experienced a riot last week. Off-White designer Virgil Abloh knows how to draw a crowd, but his Fall/Winter 2018 runway presentation almost closed down before it opened.

An uninvited and impromptu throng of sneakerheads gathered outside the venue in hopes of scoring a pair of Off-White x Nike, which Footwear News reported will be the first time Nike has made Jordans in women’s sizes. The press line turned into a mosh pit, toppling the velvet ropes as celebs and members of the fashion press reportedly tussled with fans seeking to push their way into the show.


My friend and Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post writer Robin Givhan was accidentally clocked in the head by an overzealous fan en route to her front-row seat. Once the press finally settled inside, fans were left standing outside or scattered elsewhere, no doubt on a search for the shoes, slated to go on sale March 3.

Photo: Vittorio Zunio (Celotto/Getty Images)

How did Abloh whip up this latest footwear fan-frenzy? With nylon mesh sneakers distinguished by a red zip tie—yes, that kind of thick, tough plastic doohickey used in consumer packaged goods to hold electrical cords and sometimes as police restraints. No matter the value, it’s the meaning—or, rather, the thought—that counts in fashion, especially in Abloh’s world. Believers will pay upward of $1,600 for sneakers just to have a piece of his mind on their closet shelves.

Abloh also gets the best of the best when it comes to models: Gigi and Bella Hadid, Joan Smalls, Dilone, Liya Kebede, Alek Wek and some gorgeous new faces lit up the runway in a collection that seemed to be part equestrian and part late-’80s nightlife. There were capes, cropped bustiers, sculpted shorts and corsets reminiscent of King Louis XIV’s courtiers worn over white button-down shirts and accented with electric-blue Musketeer-inspired boots, all tailor-made for editorial shoots.


Taken apart piece by piece, the corsets would work to wake up any outfit, while the boots are likely only for the brave and directional in terms of footwear—likely not without a yacht in the South of France and the budget to match.


Abloh also created sheath dresses cut from body-hugging panels of black crocodile and smooth kid leather, forming asymmetrical necklines. He sent them down the runway with opera-length black gloves and black Off-White x Nike sneakers. It’s the perfect uniform for young girls on the club-crawl circuit, paired with small sunglasses in cat-eye shapes, stiff scarves tied like ribbons at the back of the neck and structured top-handled bags.

The bags—with the word “Sculpture,” the date and Abloh’s name printed in block letters—will no doubt go viral on the knockoff market, soon to become a global fast-fashion hit on the worldwide dance floor. Stay tuned …


On that note, another recent Abloh collaboration is with artist Heron Preston. Preston’s first foray into fashion under his HPC Trading Company label was a series of repurposed New York City sanitation worker uniforms. Similarly, Abloh craftily uses high art and street-level shoes sold at penthouse prices to ground himself in fashion. Their collaboration features PVC bags with leather handles bolted on with lug nuts and shoulder straps suspended by industrial D rings. They fetch some $942 for a mini bag and $1,232 for the tote.


Preston’s official press release describes Abloh—the advisor to Kanye West’s Life of Pablo project and Nike’s digital consultant—as “the true embodiment of an artist born of the post-internet generation. Multi-faceted and genre-bending, he is a cultural icon in youth culture, an emerging designer in high fashion.”

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Veronica Webb

Veronica Webb loves Detroit, speaks French, is addicted to French fries, French fashion, runs an 8 minute mile and can never find her keys.