When Serena Williams took to the court of the U.S. Open last month, she made headlines for her outfit – a black Nike bodysuit and tutu-like skirt that had been designed for her by Off-White’s creative director Virgil Abloh. While it certainly got heads turning and tongues wagging, at the time the feminine take on performance wear seemed specific to the multi-party partnership known as the (stay with me now) Nike X Virgil Abloh for Serena Williams “Queen” collection.
In a Parisian garage Thursday night, it became apparent that last month’s tennis tutu reveal was merely an amuse bouche for a larger, more encompassing collaboration between Abloh and the Beaverton, Ore., athletic wear brand that includes running suits crossed with voluminous ball gowns, shorts and sleeveless tops made from deconstructed Nike athletic socks, and footwear that improbably melded high heels with running shoes.
It wasn’t immediately clear how much of the collection (some 50 looks in all) was part of the partnership with Nike Women’s and Nike Running, but more than a half-dozen international track and field athletes with Nike endorsement deals walked as models around the track-shaped runway (including two Americans: high-jumper Vashti Cunningham and sprinter English Gardner).
Feminine touches came by way of tulle skirts embroidered with the Off-White logo and trimmed in lace, ruffled organza skirts and tops with plunging necklines. The performance side of the equation came courtesy of one-piece, body-hugging running suits (one memorably bearing corset-like details), cycling shorts made from the aforementioned athletics socks and running tops spliced onto yards of airy tulle, lace or organza.
The predominant colors in the collection were white (which keys into the big neutrals trend that we’re seeing on the runways here) and a bright, nearly neon green that – served up in a reptile print – turned up on skirts, dresses, puffer coats, wide-legged trousers, ruffled gowns and even driving gloves.
A similarly bright shade of yellow appeared as an accent color on a handful of pieces, including the standout gown of the collection: a white gown that was T-shirt-meets-bustier up top and a tiered organza on the bottom, the lower third of which had been dip-dyed – flowing train and all – the eye-catching color.