From Pyrex and Been Trill, to Off-White and Louis Vuitton, Virgil Abloh gave new meaning to what it means to make clothing. To give Abloh the title of just a fashion designer does not do him justice. He was more than that. Powerful in his execution, he not only borrowed from fashion but from art, music, architecture, and dared to merge genres in his collaborations while producing era-defining pieces in his collections. At the height of his career, it was as though Abloh had always known that his days on earth would soon come to an end. The designer, who died of cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare form of cancer, a little over a month ago at the age of 41, accomplished more in his career of nearly 15 years than most would long for in a lifetime.

Abloh’s fashion career didn’t pick up until he was 29, when he started an internship at Fendi and established a close working relationship with Kanye West. As he worked his way up, breaking through fashion’s high walls, Abloh became a focal point for hypebeasts, streetwear enthusiasts, and people who had been excluded from the industry. Becoming the first Black person to head up French fashion house, Louis Vuitton, was almost revolutionary. His designs and existence in the fashion industry set up a direct line for young people.

Abloh’s work was not always met with admiration. He received much criticism of plagiarism and disdain, which was prompted by the inception of cancel culture. It would be easy to say that Abloh’s legacy is unimportant because of this. But it is what he epitomized and symbolized that were the authentic devices he used in breaking through boundaries. In honor of his impactful work, we highlight Abloh’s career and fashion footprint through his most iconic designs of our time.

Watch the Throne

[caption Description: Watch the Throne album cover.] Via RobbReport

In 2011, Kanye West hired Abloh as the creative director of his agency, DONDA. Abloh was responsible for designing a few albums covers such as Yeezus and, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Of the artworks he designed, Watch the Throne, is probably one of the most memorable. Abloh created the gold-foiled artwork for Jay Z and Kanye’s project, winning a Grammy nomination for Best Recording Package.

Off-White

[caption Description: Virgil Abloh at the Spring-Summer 2019 Off-White show in Paris. ] Via RobbReport

In 2013 Abloh launched his label Off-White. The label merged both streetwear and high fashion which was seen as unprecedented at the time. The Milan-based label soon gained a huge following, and now has some 49 store locations around the world.

Nike and Off-White collaboration

[caption Description: Nike x Off-White Air Jordan 1.] Via RobbReport

With a collection of ten sneakers in collaboration with Nike in 2017, Abloh earned his title as the master of hype. The Nike x Off-White Air Jordan 1 was the first release where Abloh applied his signature design motifs. Abloh also designed 50 sneakers for Nike along with creating the tulle-skirted look worn by Serena Williams at the 2018 US Open.

Appointed Artistic Director of Menswear at Louis Vuitton

[caption Description: Kayne West and Virgil Abloh attending the Louis Vuitton Menswear Spring Summer 2019.] Via RobbReport

In 2018 Abloh was appointed as the Artistic Director of Menswear at Louis Vuitton, becoming the first Black designer to lead a major luxury brand. His opening polychromatic collection was presented on a rainbow runway at the Palais-Royale gardens during Paris Fashion Week.

$1 Million raised to Support Black Students

[Virgil Abloh.] Via RobbReport
In 2020, Abloh raised $1 million through the Virgil Abloh “Post-Modern” Scholarship Fund in partnership with the Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF). The funds will provide scholarships for black people who seek to work in fashion.

LVMH Invests in Off-White

[Image Description: LVMH invests in Off-White.] Via RobbReport
Earlier this year, LVMH announced plans to attain 60 percent shares in Off-White. The luxury corporation also gave Abloh a new role, expanding his domain of influence to reach all 75 of LVMH’s brands. This move made Abloh the most influential black executive in the industry, allowing him to work across LVMH’s portfolio, such as watches, spirits, and hospitality.

 

Virgil Abloh’s revolutionized the fashion industry and the way we dress, helping find a place for those who felt like outsiders in the fashion sphere. His career achievements and formidable impact in music, art, and design will be forever remembered.


  • Esihle Faltein is a Journalism and Media Studies Honours graduate, who is a lively and passionate writer, and has an appreciation for art, storytelling and photography. She believes in the power of spreading knowledge and awareness to others, through her writing. Esihle's pursuit is to share narratives African both on local and international platforms. When she is not engrossed in this goal, she enjoys attending art galleries, painting and listening to podcasts.

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