Virgil Abloh was an American fashion designer and entrepreneur who lived from September 30, 1980, until November 28, 2021. Beginning in 2018, he was the artistic director of Louis Vuitton‘s menswear collection, and an early 2021, he was granted expanded creative duties across the LVMH brand. Abloh was also the founder and CEO of the Off-White fashion business in Milan, which he started in 2013.
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Table of Contents
Virgil Abloh was born in Rockford, Illinois, to Ghanaian immigrant parents. His mother worked as a seamstress, and his father had a paint company. He learned to sew from his mum. He grew up in Rockford, Illinois, and graduated from Boylan Catholic High School in 1998. He earned a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2002. In 2006, he earned a Master of Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT).
During Virgil Abloh’s time at IIT, a building designed by Rem Koolhaas was under construction on campus (who had also worked on runway collections for Prada). His interest in fashion was sparked by Koolhaas’s building. He designed T-shirts for a well-known blog, The Brilliance while studying architecture. While working on his designs in a Chicago print studio, Abloh met Kanye West, the famous music artist.
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In 2009, he interned at Fendi in the same class as rapper Kanye West after graduating from university. The two began collaborating after being assigned to the company’s Rome, Italy branch. Michael Burke, the CEO of Louis Vuitton, noticed him working with the rapper and designer. Later that year, he and West’s artistic partner, Don C, opened a retail outlet in Chicago called the RSVP Gallery. The store became notable for providing a variety of fashion apparel as well as reflecting Virgil’s style in its interior design. Kanye West made him the creative director of his creative agency, Donda, a year later.
In 2011, West invited him to be the artistic director for the Jay-Z/West album Watch the Throne, which was released 2011. He designed the cover art for WZRD‘s self-titled debut album in 2012. Pyrex Vision, Abloh’s first company, was founded in 2012. He bought deadstock Ralph Lauren clothes for $40, screen-printed graphics on them, and sold them for upwards of $550. He shut down the company a year later because it was never intended to be an economic venture, but rather an artistic experiment.
With the high-end streetwear brand Off-White, Virgil created his first fashion house and second firm overall in 2013, designing a logo inspired by Ben Kelly. Virgil Abloh defined the brand, which is based in Milan, Italy, to investors and fashion critics as “the gray space between black and white as the color off-white.” The New Guards Group aided him with the debut of his brand, as well as several other designers and brands such as Palm Angels, Heron Preston, and Marcelo Burlon.
Virgil Abloh started his first Off-White collection inspired by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s floating glass home, Farnsworth House, and included references to Caravaggio and the Bauhaus design studio from the early twentieth century. Beginning in Paris, the brand leader attracted international acclaim for his clothing, which he subsequently expanded to China, Japan, and the United States. The usage of quote marks, zip ties, uppercase letters, and barricade tape distinguishes the apparel line.
In 2014, he introduced the company’s women’s wear line, which debuted during Paris Fashion Week. His collection was a finalist for the LVMH Prize, however, it was defeated by Marques’Almeida and Jacquemus. He opened his first Off-White concept store in Tokyo, Japan, where he also launched the company’s furniture division, Grey Area. Virgil Abloh’s re-designing followed his own criteria of just altering the shoes 3 percent of the way since he was attracted by the idea of keeping the shoe’s original design.
Off-White had surpassed Gucci as the trendiest label in the world at the end of 2018, according to a sales and consumer mood barometer. Virgil has collaborated with IKEA, a Swedish furniture manufacturer, to create furniture for apartments and houses, as well as tote bags with the word sculpture engraved in the center. Markerad is a Swedish word that means “clear-cut; sharp; pronounced,” and the collection was released in 2019. The series, according to Virgil, would comprise functional furniture with contemporary styles. In 2017, he was requested to collaborate with Nike on a new collection called “The Ten,” in which he redesigned a number of the company’s best-selling sneakers.
By drawing updrafts of generic pieces of furniture and adding his own aesthetics to the designs by utilizing a doorstop to level out furniture items, Virgil Abloh worked toward realizing his vision for the IKEA collection. As part of his partnership with IKEA, Abloh created designs for chairs, coffee tables, beds, storage cabinets, mirrors, and carpets.
To show alienation from society and societal standards, Virgil Abloh utilized quote marks. He collaborated with conceptual artist Jenny Holzer to produce a line emphasizing the positive qualities of immigration, cultural integration, and globalization during the rise of neo-nationalism in 2017. In reaction to the Women’s March on Washington, he collaborated with Holzer again in December 2017 to design T-shirts for Planned Parenthood.
In 2018, Time magazine named him one of the world’s 100 most influential people. The New York Times called his design aesthetic, which combined streetwear and premium apparel, “transformative.” He achieved a level of global celebrity unusual for a designer, according to The Wall Street Journal, and was an inspirational figure, according to the BBC.
Virgil Abloh worked extensively with Takashi Murakami, a Japanese artist. Murakami’s Kaikai Kiki art gallery in Tokyo, Japan, gave him a solo exhibition. Their work has been shown together on multiple occasions, including at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and at Murakami’s Tokyo boutique Oz Zingaro. He and Murakami collaborated on a series of shows in London, Paris, and Beverly Hills in 2018. He debuted the MCA speech campaign for the age for the CTA’s Red Line train wrap in 2019.
In 2019, He had his first solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. As part of the Qatar-USA 2021 Year of Culture, Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech went to the High Museum of Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, and Qatar Museums after Chicago. The exhibition was supposed to be a mid-career retrospective of his artistic, design, and musical accomplishments.
Figures of Speech will be on display at the Brooklyn Museum from July 1, 2022, through January 29, 2023. The exhibition in Brooklyn will be entirely dedicated to Virgil Abloh’s work, spanning two decades of his career and including collaborations with artists Takashi Murakami, Kanye West, and architect Rem Koolhaas, among others; material from his fashion label Off-White; and items from Louis Vuitton, where he served as the first Black menswear artistic director. This version of the project will also include a meeting and performance area and is intended to address the historical lack of space in cultural institutions for Black artists and people.
His passion for music drove him to start DJing in his teens. Throughout high school and college, he DJed at house parties. DJs A-Trak, Benji B, and Gilles Peterson were among his influences. He became known as a DJ over time and began doing events all over the world. He performed at Hi Ibiza and has been confirmed for the 2019 edition of Tomorrowland. In January 2018, he released his first track, “Orvnge,” alongside German DJ/producer Boys Noize. He was named to a DJ residency at Wynn Las Vegas’s XS Nightclub in June 2019, and Wynn also agreed to open an Off-White store there.
In 2021, he created “Imaginary Radio” c/o Virgil Abloh, a new monthly two-hour internet radio show on Worldwide FM. DJ performances and talks with musicians and other creatives were featured on the show, with early guests including electronic artist Omar-S and BadBadNotGood’s Alex Sowinski. He previously hosted a show named “TELEVISED RADIO” on Apple Music 1. Between 2018 and 2020, five episodes were released.
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Personal Life And Death
Virgil Abloh, his wife Shannon, and their two children lived in Chicago. He was diagnosed with cardiac angiosarcoma, a kind of cancer, in 2019, but he kept the news to himself. He died in Chicago on November 28, 2021, at the age of 41.
LVMH paid tribute to Virgil Abloh at their planned November 30 spin-off fashion show in Miami, with the family’s agreement, with the theme “Virgil was here.” The memorial was attended by Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, ASAP Rocky, Bella Hadid, Pharrell Williams, Tahar Rahim, Venus Williams, Joe Jonas, Ricky Martin, Jeremy Pope, 21 Savage, Joan Smalls, and Bernard Arnault. Louis Vuitton used the tribute “Virgil was here” in its window displays around the world.
Drake , Rihanna, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Kid Cudi, Tyler, the Creator, ASAP Rocky, Frank Ocean, Vic Mensa, Lauryn Hill, Don C, and Jerry Lorenzo were among the celebrities who attended Virgil Abloh’s private burial on December 6, 2021, in Chicago.
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Virgil Abloh was an American fashion designer, artist, and DJ who died in November 2021 with a net worth of $100 million. Virgil was a well-known fashion director and the founder of the high-end streetwear label Off-White. In 2018, he was named artistic director of Louis Vuitton. He was a previous creative director for Kanye West. He was the first African-American to lead a French luxury fashion brand as an artistic director.