Ian Isiah Introduced Off-White Couture With a Blunt in Hand
Ian Isiah, a.k.a SHUGGA, is a fashion icon, performance artist, and musician famous for his haunting, gospel-inspired vocals. Here, he tells us about introducing the first Off-White couture collection with a blunt in hand during the label’s Fall/Winter 2022 ready-to-wear show.
IAN ISIAH: Hey!
INTERVIEW: Good morning! Good Afternoon!
ISIAH: Good morning! I don’t even know what time it is. [Laughs]
INTERVIEW: How was the Off-White show? It looked beautiful.
ISIAH: I smoked weed and cried basically the whole show. That was fun. I did not know that I was signing up for the debut of the Off-White couture show, so that was really cool.
INTERVIEW: We were all surprised!
ISIAH: I’m such a granny so I was just proud of all my friends. They’re all really amazing people who have really amazing legacies, including Virgil. It’s so great that you can still see his name and attitude imprinted on every garment—and this is me looking at it without seeing logos. This is the first time i’ve been back in Paris in like three or four years. Every time I do something Virgil-related, it’s a big family reunion.
INTERVIEW: Can you tell us a little about the music?
ISIAH: Benji B, the music director, really tore the music out. We also had the legendary Jeff Mills, who is a drum god—a percussion legend. Having that vibe together really made me feel at home. It was jazz incorporations with a lot of brand-new hip-hop and this weird tempo that was genius to me. It made all the models do some backstage dancing before we went out. I loved the way the music flowed between the ready-to-wear and couture.
INTERVIEW: That’s when you came out.
ISIAH: Yeah. They used me as the transition from ready to wear to couture. I do see myself as that transition. [Laughs] It was crazy.
INTERVIEW: Why did you decide to light up at that moment?
ISIAH: Virgil is my peer, so I felt like he needed some sort of ancestral celebration. My family is Christian but my father’s side is very Rastafarian. There’s a lot of weed smoking in honor and reverence to the dead, to our ancestors and people we’ve lost. That was just me. I had my hair up in a bun, smoking weed in a really cool neoprene suit. That was fab by the way, it was the first neoprene suit I’ve seen in couture. They were just like, “Here’s your obligation, when everyone clears the room, do what you want to do, and then when the supermodels come out, start smoking weed.” I’m like, “As long as fashion hires me to be myself, I’m perfect.”