Virgil Abloh Turns the Runway Into a Track With Olympic-Level Athletes

Courtesy of Off-White
Bella Hadid, left, and Kendall Jenner open the Off-White Spring 2019 show

At Paris Fashion Week, the designer continued his winning streak with Nike.

In recent weeks, sneaker brands have been in the headlines as much as fashion brands, including Adidas tapping actor Donald Glover as an ambassador, Nike courting controversy by casting NFL player turned racial equality activist Colin Kaepernick in its Just Do It campaign, and teaming up with designer-of-the-moment Virgil Abloh and his Off-White label to design Serena Wiliams' statement-making U.S. Open outfits, including the bodysuit with tutu.

So it was a no brainer for Abloh to continue the winning streak with his Spring 2019 Off-White women's collection, shown Thursday afternoon on a track in a Parisian garage, including pieces made in collaboration with Nike Women's and Nike Running.

In addition to casting some of the biggest models in the biz (Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid opened the show in white minis, and Karlie Kloss followed later in a black blazer with "Off White" spelled out across the front), he also recruited actual athletes to take runway laps, including British sprinter Dina Asher Smith, American high jumper Vashti Cunningham and 100 meter dasher English Gardner.

The clothes were his version of sport-couture (a trend also seen this week at Dries Van Noten and Mugler), in mostly plain white (not off-white, funnily enough) and neon (tennis ball?) green. He mixed Spandex dresses, catsuits, shorts and track suits with trains, with tailored suiting and python-print denim, varying footwear from moto-wrap sneakers to athletic-looking heels.

For evening, or a marathon wedding weekend perhaps, he offered all-white, moisture-wicking tanks and Ts, worn with layered tulle, technical-looking needle-punch lace or neon-green dipped ball-skirts and Nike trainers, of course. (And hey, if anyone could play the U.S. Open wearing a ball skirt, Williams could.)

Never one to rest on his laurels, Abloh has been a busy man since debuting his first collection as artistic director of Louis Vuitton menswear in June. He collaborated with Moet Hennessy on an limited edition Off-White branded Nectar Imperial Rose champagne bottle with "Do Not Drop" verbiage, out Oct. 1, and will head to Las Vegas on Oct. 7 to DJ at the Wynn's XS Nightclub. Just call him fashion's new speed demon.