Virgil Abloh is many things: Louis Vuitton’s menswear artistic director, Kanye West’s creative director and founder of luxury streetwear label Off-White. Now, he’s expanding his portfolio even further with a new collaboration with Nike and Serena Williams.
For Williams’s return to the US Open, where she will compete for her 24th Grand Slam, Nike and Abloh joined forces to create the “QUEEN” Collection. The line, which will be available in stores later this month, includes a tennis dress, a jacket, a bag and three styles of sneakers.
“With Serena, we have one of our generation’s most powerful, inspiring athletes as the muse,” Abloh said in a statement. “I was trying to embody her spirit and bring something compelling and fresh to tennis.”
Abloh said Williams was more involved in the creative process than the public might think. “This is very far from a design-by-numbers project,” said Abloh. “She has a level of creativity with how she expresses herself in terms of clothing in any event, so I made everything with her logic in mind. We traded images and there was a lot of back-and-forth to get this done in short order.”
Abloh used the dress, which was one-shouldered with a tutu skirt, as an example. “So the dress is feminine, but combines her aggression,” said Abloh.
“It’s partially revealing. It’s asymmetrical. It has a sort of ballerina-esque silhouette to symbolize her grace. It’s not about bells and whistles and tricks. It’s just about it living on the body, and expressing Serena’s spirit with each swing of the racket.”
Williams, who will wear the dress in the competition along with a special pair of NikeCourt Flare 2 sneakers, had sung it praises. “When I first tried on the dress, I felt very strong and feminine at the same time. It has all the really strong elements, from the leather to that really cool stretchy material,” said Williams. “I felt so feminine in the tutu, which is probably my favorite part of it. It really embodies what I always say: that you can be strong and beautiful at the same time.”