Urgency, Not Escapism – At Pitti Off-White Collaborated With Jenny Holzer
Even if you don’t know artist Jenny Holzer’s work, you probably do. Remember those brilliant Helmut Lang ads – those I Tease You, I Breathe You, I Smell You On My Skin? Her. And lots of other stuff that we would have to Google, but she’s very good. She’s especially good with words, collecting them and making them look nice and such. So, for his Off-White show at Pitti this evening, where he was the guest star, Virgil Abloh drafted in Ms Holzer’s talents. In a big way. A collection of poems in her signature Helvetica (we made that up, it might be a Sans Serif, idk) scrolled up the walls of the Pitti Palace, where they were projected on. And those were worthy words – about war and borders, Syria and Palestine. As Virgil said this show was about urgency, not escapism.
Those words continued to roll as the boys hit the catwalk – providing a backdrop for clothes that talked about a different kind of border. Virgil surmised that Pitti was about tailoring, so here he took that and set it against his own brand of intelligent sportswear. Call it a hybrid. It began with white – these great white trousers, a little flared, worn with sleeveless knits, or clear giant clear bags, these built-up techy anoraks. And those sporty cuts were mixed with shirting and blazers – the shirting here almost ruffled, falling away from the model’s chests, whilst blazers were updated with a ring-pull zip along the arm. Have to say that the shorts were a highlight – a bit like those elastic waist P.E. shorts you used to wear, here a little more structured, flaring slightly to make the boys’ legs look teeny-tiny. They had touch of kink to them, and that kink lurked throughout – the way that the boys stomachs were revealed in peek-a-boo sports jackets, or the way that tops, some like football shirts, clung to the body. It was something of a statement of intent from Virgil, a turning point. It looked good. There’s loads you’ll want to wear, and loads that you will end up wearing – because this stuff is going to be everywhere.