[Update] Without saying anything in direct response, Abloh responded a few hours after the hubbub died down by Tweeting an announcement for his his women’s runway show in Paris that read, “upcoming fw17 women’s Off-White™ collection titled “NOTHING NEW” showing in paris, france march 2nd at 9 pm palais de tokyo. youth invited.”
upcoming fw17 women’s Off-White™ collection titled “NOTHING NEW” showing in paris, france march 2nd at 9 pm palais de tokyo. youth invited.
— virgil abloh (@virgilabloh) January 28, 2017
Written all in caps, it’s hard not to conclude that the title of the show is a reference to recycled nature of design wherein everything is inspired by something that came before it, even when coming from a designer who is viewed as particularly talented aka Simons. Abloh added the subtle dig, “youth invited,” a statement that reflects the open-to-the-public activations Abloh often holds in connection with his presentations, but also a dig at Simons’ own concession that the youth ultimately own the future.
Read the original story below.
Newly-installed at Calvin Klein, Belgian designer Raf Simons came out swinging in an interview with GQ today (January 27, 2017), in which he was asked to comment on up and coming designers, specifically Virgil Abloh and his label, Off White.
The Bourgeoisie vs. The Youth
Simons went on to describe himself and peers including Miuccia Prada, Phoebe Philo and Marc Jacobs and Demna Gvasalia as “activators,” and added, “Fashion doesn’t exist if we don’t exist. But it’s possible that the ones who talk will not exist. So I find that it’s a very difficult thing to talk about.”
A$AP Rocky Enters the Fray…
In response to the interview, fashion plate and rapper A$AP Rocky initially wrote on Twitter,”OFF WHITE ALL YEAR!” He then went on to retweet some of his followers writing the same thing and also added, “OFF WHITE DEFENSE SQUAD !!! FAK U MEAN, WHEN I SEE RAF IMMA HAVE A COUPLE WORDS 4 HIM.”
Less than an hour later, Rocky backtracked, deleted his pro Off White Tweet and wrote, “RAF IS OUR FASHION GOD , THE WHOLE GAME BITES HIM , I BARELY WEAR OFF WHITE BUT I FEEL BAD FOR VIRGIL , I HOPE THIS INSPIRES HIM 2 TURN UP!”
Rocky not only withdrew from chiding Simons, but did a complete 180, posting a song snippet on Twitter with the lyrics, “Please don’t touch my Raf.”
— LORD FLACKO JODYE II (@asvpxrocky) January 27, 2017
It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
All the Rocky kerfuffle aside, the debate over who is a real designer versus a copycat designer are as old as the hills and very similar to ongoing debates over who has the right to attend fashion shows and critique designs. Like so many industries, the very exclusionary club of fashion critics and designers came crashing down with the rise of the internet, a dynamic that many members of the old guard to this day have have trouble adjusting to.
What’s surprising is that such a well-respected designer as Simons would want to enter into a debate on such a lose-lose discussion. That said, within the GQ interview, Simons referenced a June 2016 System magazine interview with Miuccia Prada, in which he said he was fed up with being polite. “While I have no problem with negative response towards me, I do have a problem that I cannot be negative myself,” said Simons.
The sad part is that Abloh has not only met Simons, but openly cited him as an inspiration in a 2012 interview with Vogue, in which he revealed he’s been collecting Simons pieces for many years and is an unabashed fan of his work. Commenting on what makes Simons special, Abloh said, “There’s culture, there’s trends, and it can be superficial in a way. Like, ‘Oh, this print is in.’ Or, you can take an approach to the art of fashion and tie it into the culture, music, and the real artistry of the time. Raf is connected to all of that, but his outlet is fashion.”
In addition to collecting pieces, Abloh has created Off White garments that are straight tributes to Simons, including the “Nebraska” shirts he made for his spring 2015 collections, inspired by a design first shown by Simons in 2002.
It’s hard to imagine the laid-back Abloh responding to this dust up. If anything, he can take it as a sign of encouragement that Simons would have such a strong reaction to his work. If haters are an inevitable part of success, having Simons as a certified member can’t be viewed as a bad thing.