Virgil Abloh’s Off White Spring 2016 show was many things: a casual, crisp, and cool collection of layered garments. An updated take on the typical white shirt and jeans. An architectural assemblage of pieces uplifted by refreshing ruffles and patches. The show was fantastic! But sadly, it wasn’t diverse.
Virgil Abloh is best known as Kanye West’s creative director, and has been called the Maestro of Elevated Streetwear.
Kanye once told the New York Times, “Virgil is one of the smartest, fastest, most innovative people I’ve created with.” Kanye also once said, famously, “George Bush doesn’t care about Black People.” Could the same be said for Mr. Abloh in regards to black models?
Out of 21 looks in Abloh’s Off White collection, shown in Paris, only one was modeled by a black woman.
In an age where every season, runway designers get graded on their attention to diversity (and fail miserably), one would think that a black designer from Chicago would go over and above to make his show diverse. Malaika Firth, Jourdan Dunn, Joan Smalls, Herieth Paul, Ysaunny Brito, Riley Montana, Maria Borges, Tami Williams, Lineisy Montero, Cindy Bruna, and Binx Walton are all in town. I know because they all walked in Balmain’s Spring 2016 show. Couldn’t the casting director for Off White book just a few more women of color?
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t going to ‘go there,’ and was just going to put up the show review and keep it pushing. But the lack of color was pretty obvious. And if black designers don’t make it a point to include black models in runway shows, who will?