Boots wrapped in plastic and tulle or padded almost as thick as puffer jackets. Slinky sandals with logo-stamped grosgrain straps, reminiscent of waistband on boxer briefs. These are just some of the standout footwear designs that anchored the 37 looks at the Off-White runway show in Paris last September.
On paper, it seems that its designer Virgil Abloh seems to be pandering to the street style set and pop starlets like Rihanna and the Kardashian clan when he designed these shoes. After all, that demographic seems to be the greatest champions of his work. But scratch the surface, and this shoe outing, a collaboration with Jimmy Choo launching this month, is not all about — how shall we say it — hype.
Never mind that Rihanna was one of the earliest to be seen wearing the designs back in October (above). Ditto the fact that Abloh’s track record with designer sneakers have been gold. One just needs to look at the reception and waiting lists for his Low 3.0 sneakers and Nike Air Jordan Ones tie-ups to get an idea of the cachet of his footwear designs.
Yet, what transpired between Jimmy Choo’s creative director Sandra Choi and Abloh on the drawing board is quite the story that would take you back to the era when shoulder pads were in vogue and Abloh was still a boy. Says the 38-year-old Abloh: “I liked the idea of Diana as a muse. The point of this collection was to tell a story that an impactful figure like her is our living version of Cinderella. Make a shoe that gives that Princess feeling. ‘The New Glass Slipper’.”
Twenty years after her death, the Princess of Wales still rings a relevance to Abloh and his creative process. “She was and is still a role model and the whole premise of the Off-White collection is asking the question ‘Who’s the new woman?’,” he says.
“The fact that now, there’s a new powerful independent woman that has a style. That she can wear jeans, not have to wear a suit that was made for a man. She is an individual that you can’t classify. And I think that Princess Diana is relevant explicitly now because she was ahead of her time. Her being Princess Diana and having this variance of style choice is indicative.”