Virgil Abloh, the artistic director of Louis Vuitton, who was often referred to as the American fashion designer and entrepreneur of the century, passed away on 28 November 2021.
The Chief Executive Officer of Off-White™ passed away after a private battle with cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare form of cancer.
The fashion industry, known for its entertaining style and substance, lost one of its most valuable members.
At 41 years old, it marked a sombre day for the creative industry.
“I feel like I’m figuring things out, but I don’t feel accomplished yet. I still feel like I’m an intern.” – Virgil Abloh.
According to Fusion, “he was known for his groundbreaking hybrids of streetwear and high couture that made him one of the most celebrated tastemakers in fashion and beyond.”
Growing up, Abloh didn’t know what he wanted to do as a career until he decided to take an Art History class at Boylan Catholic High School.
This gave him the idea to use art as a type of innovation and creative expression. Since then, Abloh appreciated art in all of its forms, and this allowed his creative freedom to flow in all areas surrounding his artistic ability.
Abloh embarked on numerous projects, partnerships and explorations on the intersections of fashion, art, design and architecture that made the designer one of the most prolific creatives of the decade.
This included a solo art exhibit, streetwear and furniture designs, album covers, music mixers, and not to mention his plans that re-shaped the way we view streetwear and high fashion.
He’s worked on many creative projects with Kanye West for over ten years, and in 2013 he started his very own fashion label called Off-White™.
His clothes have been worn by many celebrities, including Rihanna, Beyonce, Drake, Nicole Kidman, Gigi Hadid, Justin Bieber and many more.
It wasn’t until he landed his role as the artistic director for Louis Vuitton’s menswear line in 2018 that things took a turn for the fashion phenomenon.
“It is an honour for me to accept the position of men’s artistic director for Louis Vuitton. I find the heritage and creative integrity of the house are key inspirations and will look to reference them both while drawing parallels to modern times.” – Virgil Abloh.
Not many people with this much talent can balance such a busy, intense lifestyle, but Virgil Abloh had other dreams in mind.
“From my perspective, I’m trying to stand for a generation. You know, each generation has designers who go along with it. I just wanna start a brand that inspires and is geared towards youth” – Virgil Abloh
Here are five times Virgil Abloh revolutionised the cultural landscape:
No Formal Fashion Education Didn’t Stop Him From Having A PYREX Vision
Even though Abloh did go to college and obtained two degrees, one in Civil Engineering from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and a master’s degree in Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology, he never received any formal education in fashion or design.
In 2012, Abloh started the PYREX vision couture streetwear boutique.
“Pyrex Vision’s first season was, for me, an expression of myself as an artist first, designer second.” – Virgil Abloh.
This idea revolutionised the thrift and boutique experience, changing the way we see and buy vintage shirts that had never been worn before. He then added a screen-printed PYREX vision logo on the back and transformed what was once old and unwanted – into something new, trending and unique. With huge success, the designer decided to shut down the company due to the heavy demand for his social experiment.
However, he then decided to re-brand to Off-White™ – and the rest is history.
Virgil Abloh And Kanye West Join Hands
One year after Abloh and West finished their internship with Fendi in 2009, West hired Abloh to be his official creative director of Donda, the agency he named after his mother.
In this role, he oversaw and revolutionised Kanye’s stage design, music videos and packaging design.
He was soon commissioned to create a long list of celebrity albums, too, including Lil Wayne, Two-Chains and Nicki Minaj.
“I was impressed with how [Abloh and West] brought a whole new vibe to the studio and were disruptive in the best way. Virgil could create a metaphor and a new vocabulary to describe something as old-school as Fendi. I have been following his career ever since.” – Louis Vuitton CEO Michael Burke.
Abloh art directs the album Watch the Throne by Jay-Z and West, an achievement that earns him a Grammy nomination.
Collaborations With Rimowa Oversee The Launch Of His Very Own Transparent Suitcase Line
Rimowa has been manufacturing premium luggage since the company was founded back in 1888. As years passed, the company reached out to Abloh in the hopes that his intelligent design skills would revolutionise the way we look at travel accessories.
What Rimowa and Off-White™ ended up creating was a genuinely distinctive line of parent-carbonate transparent suitcases.
Making the travel essential clear allowed the user to become involved in the design process. Abloh revolutionised and transformed the everyday product into a walking art piece at our fingertips.
The suitcases were launched in 2018 and received wide acclaim.
Ikea Welcomes Virgil Abloh’s Furniture Line With Open Arms
One of his most exciting collaborations happened with the Swedish furniture company – Ikea in 2019. The ideas and concepts were geared towards millennials and were designed with the image of a person finalising their interiors or moving into their first home.
“The ethos of the collection is to add an artful quality to anonymous objects.” – Virgil Abloh.
Together they updated a range of everyday objects – from clocks to chairs – with the kind of striking style that can help any home stand out.
The collaboration MARKERAD took classic minimalist designs and built on them with his iconic quotation marks throughout.
They added a sense of irony to the products we’ve produced – perfect for people trying to build a home with a little high-fashion edge or looking to freshen up the one they already have.
DJ Flat White Knew How To Turn Up A Party At Any Event
Abloh started working as a DJ in Chicago as a teenager with love for music and mixing tracks. He collaborated with another rising DJ to form mixtapes to use in one of his Paris fashion week shows.
The artist revolutionised music by combing different technical aspects into a mixtape, giving his shows all around the world a chance to ignite multiple multimedia sounds to his creative vision.
In the end
The long-time lover of all things creative will always be remembered for his humble beginnings, suited fashion, content demeanour and pure talent.
“Fashion and music are two great art forms that can be moulded by the youth culture – our taste and our passion for evolving things in our limited time on earth allows us to look at things with fresh eyes.” – Virgil Abloh.
Virgil Abloh’s legend will remain within fashion history forever.