Two Of A Kind: Repeated Triangles

A three-sided figure—even right-side up—and repeated just recalls those of a very famous Italian brand

Uma Wang’s pantsuit vs Prada’s Symbole jacquard tote. Photos: Uma Wang and Prada respectively

Uma Wang (王汁) is a popular designer in China. And the Chinese are especially proud that she is one of the few among the dalu (大陆 or mainland) designers to show abroad with anomalous regularity. Recently, she shared images of the digital presentation of her spring/summer 2023 collection, A Gaze into the Wilderness, during Paris Fashion Week. Among the Central Saint Martin alum’s usual oversized, drape-y styles, two outfits stood out, but not for their exceptional designs. There is a coat and a pantsuit and both are in fabrics with a orderly repeated pattern that immediately brings to mind the jacquard used in Prada’s Symbole bags.

Prada is, in fact, rather late in the monogram-style pattern in place of all-over logos or logotype on clothing and accessories. Based on its familiar inverted triangle that frames its logo, the Symbole was introduced this summer, with a campaign in our part of the world that featured Korean stars Kim Min-ju, Bona, and others. Prada describes the pattern of the Symbole as “modernist”. And it is even minimalist, if seen with the more recent monograms, such as Burberry’s interlocking TB, introduced in 2018 (what would its fate be now, since its introducer Riccardo Tisci is no longer with the house isn’t clear) or Versace’s Le Greca, launched last year.

Modernist might also be how Ms Wang sees her rows and rows of triangles. If you look at the dominant black ones, they are isosceles, closed-plane polygons with sharp vertexes, just like Prada’s, but placed right-side up and are more condensed. The linear arrangement is similar to the Italian brand’s as well—the black alternating with the lighter-coloured, with a sum effect like the board used for the triangular chess (yes, there is such a game, invented in 1986 by American lawyer George R. Dekle Sr). In that scheme, even Ms Wang’s chromatic choice is similar to Prada’s: black and khaki. It is possible that she picked her fabric (known to be from Italy) before Prada launched the Symbole bags, but it is even likelier that the latter went into development much earlier. Since only too looks were created with the said fabric, would it have been better for Uma Wang to omit both so as to avoid being compared to Prada’s increasingly popular Symbole?

What’s That Hole, Again?

Off-White puts an orifice over the stomach

Holes are here. We saw them in New York at Marni; we are now seeing them in Paris at Off-White. Yes, gaping holes. Their appeal is not immediately clear. Perhaps it has to do with creating a porthole with which to view skin. Or, very specific part of the body, such as the cleavage or, in the case of Off-White, the stomach, which is punctuated with another, much smaller hole, the belly button. The holes of cold shoulders, once so popular, have migrated as a single framed aperture in the center of the body. We have said this before, and we’ll say it again: They seem to focus on something sexual, or reproductive. And Off-White’s larger (than Marni’s) holes could be twice the possibility. Perhaps we are allowing out imagination to veer to far off. Maybe these are just yueliangmen (月亮门 or moon gates)—passageways to welcome you into something.

The show is called “CELEBRATION” (the Abloh-esque quotation a must), and it requires no effort to guess who Off-White is celebrating. Ten months have passed since Virgil Abloh’s death. The world is still celebrating his legacy, not just at the brand he founded, but also at Louis Vuitton, where he had, many agree, changed menswear. Apparently this collection was already initiated by Mr Abloh before he died. The collection is now realised by the team installed at the studio and led by the stylist and EIC of Dazed Ibrahim Kamara, the brand’s Image and Art Director, who was appointed to the post last April. Why Mr Kamara was not made the creative director of the ready-to-wear isn’t clear, but it is possible that he is trying to postion himself as a ”multi-hyphenate”, as Mr Abloh invariably was thought to be.

One of the things he with the varied portfolio has to do is to keep things within Planet Abloh, and a signature colour is a good way to start. Unmistakable this season is the wash of blue that bathes the show and its venue to effect what Mr Kamara called “blue universe”, as he told WWD. This includes the by-now obligatory pre-show performance typical of Mr Abloh’s presentation, this time with dancers all togged in the chosen blue, with faces painted in the same colour. It is tempting to think they are members of the Blue Man Group, but they are not. The performers are reportedly from the French capital. They performed with palpable tribal spunk to the percussive music of Paris-based afro-punk musician Faty Sy Savanet, in leotards no doubt created by the Off-White studio.

As for the collection, it is not going to benefit from what we have not already said about Virgil Abloh’s work. To note, again, is that Off-White is not quite the label it was before; the street tag of the past is mostly not applicable. After Virgil Abloh joined Louis Vuitton and had access to the maison’s vast resources, Off-White became more like a Louis Vuitton spin-off with a ‘couture’ component that also manifests in the present show, although not in quantity. The two outfits are presumably to bring the presentation to a close, with a bang. One is a coat made of what looks like petals (leather?), festooned to give it a vaguely cocoon shape. The other is less conventional, even curious—a lace chador, worn with the face left uncovered. Inclusive, perhaps, but would true chador wearers not take offence to the sheerness of the garment? Or, could this be what Sierra Leone-born Ibrahim Kamara told WWD: “I’m bringing my African point of view”?

Screen shot (top): off—white.com. Photos: gorunway.com