Though Camella Ehlke exited her company in 2004, she continues to explore ways to repurpose textiles, mixing and matching, fraying and pleating — which Abloh coined “the crash of fabrics.” The Off-White™ designer generously shipped his surplus and sample yardage from his Milan fabric house and kickstarted Ehlke’s artistic practice of one-of-a-kind outfits for chairs.
When Camella Ehlke founded her clothing label 555 Soul in 1989 out of a beat-up storefront in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the term streetwear didn’t really exist—and at the time, it certainly wasn’t a global $185-billion industry. The designer started sewing pieces made from dead stock fabrics, blending the colorful styles of New York hip-hop and California surf into one covetable downtown look. Her forward-looking streetwise clothes were embraced by the city’s hippest dressers: Rappers, DJs, skaters, taggers, artists, and the like. Before long, 555 Soul was stocked across the globe, and the label was selling millions of dollars of clothes a year.