A premature death, a dazzling career cut short, a huge loss to the fashion industry, and the loss of an icon for millions, the passing away of Virgil Abloh, means so much and more.
Virgil Abloh, the artistic director of Louis Vuitton's menswear and founder and CEO of 'Off White', died on Sunday at the age of 41, after a two-year struggle with a rare form of cancer.
Son of immigrant parents from Ghana, this American-born designer rose to prominence as fashion's most visible black designer and the creative force behind Louis Vuitton's menswear designs. He is credited with bringing streetwear such as hoodies and sneakers to the catwalk.
With extensive contributions to fashion, music, and art, the Chicago native has established himself as one of our generation's most influential creative forces.
Abloh not only molded the future of contemporary fashion, but he also impacted the world for the better, opening the path for up-and-coming designers and giving marginalised voices in art and design a voice.
Let us take a closer at his career trajectory, from being a Fendi intern to Off-White founder.
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Virgil Abloh's Ghanaian immigrant parents raised him and his sister in nearby Rockford, Illinois. Abloh is a 1998 alumnus of Boylan Catholic High School, which wears the official colours of green and white. His mother was a seamstress, and she taught him how to sew.
In 2002, he graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and went on to study architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Later, after two years working for an architecture business, Abloh decided to pursue a career in fashion. In 2009, he founded RSVP Gallery, an art gallery and clothing boutique in Chicago.
In Rome, in Abloh and Kanye West, the well-known pop star who also dabbled in fashion, worked as interns at Fendi. "I was incredibly impressed with how [Abloh and West] introduced a completely new atmosphere to the studio and were disruptive in the nicest manner," Louis Vuitton CEO Michael Burke recently told The New York Times. He further added, "To explain something as old-school as Fendi, Virgil might invent a metaphor and a new word. Since then, I've been following his career."
In 2010, Abloh joined Kanye West's creative agency Donda as creative director, overseeing stage shows and concert merchandise projects. He won many awards for his revolutionary fashion style and also a Grammy nomination for his work on Jay-Z and Kanye West's album cover of 'Watch the Throne'.
Pyrex Vision, Abloh's first fashion label, debuted in 2012, screen-printing logos onto Champion t-shirts and deadstock Ralph Lauren rugby shirts. In addition, as part of the Been Trill collective, he collaborated with Matthew Williams and Heron Preston. Pyrex went out of business in 2013. Abloh established the upscale men's and women's streetwear label Off-White the following year. Jay-Z, ASAP Rocky, Rihanna, and Beyoncé all wear the Milan-based brand carried by shops such as Barneys and Colette. Off-White was a nominee for the LVMH Prize in 2015. nation.
2018 was the landmark year in his career as Abloh was named artistic director of Louis Vuitton's menswear designs, succeeding Kim Jones, his friend and mentor.
His debut at LVMH in 2018 was a watershed moment in the union of streetwear and high-end design, with sneakers and camouflage pants rubbing shoulders with tailored suits and evening dresses. Graffiti art, hip hop, and skateboarding culture were among his influences.
Abloh died in Chicago, according to The New York Times.
"Virgil heroically battled a rare, severe form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma, for nearly two years," said a note on his Instagram account. "Since his diagnosis in 2019, he has chosen to fight his struggle in seclusion, undergoing multiple difficult treatments while leading several key institutions spanning fashion, art, and culture.", it read further.