Virgil Abloh-BoF 500 The People Shaping the Global Fashion Industry
On November 28, 2021, Virgil Abloh passed away following a personal struggle with the cancerous condition cardiac angiosarcoma. He was 41. Most recently, the creator of Off-White and Louis Vuitton’s Men’s Artistic Director was spotted in Doha, Qatar, at the opening of his show “Figures of Speech.”
On the website The Brilliance in 2007, Virgil Abloh stated, “I am all about pushing this new era of designers becoming the next rock stars.” In a decade, Virgil Abloh has become just that. From a young Chicagoan obsessed with fashion, art, design, and culture, the American designer has advanced to become the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear division.
We’re taking a look back at Virgil Abloh’s professional history, from his days as a Fendi intern to his collaborations with Kanye West and Off-White to becoming the founder and unrivaled collaborator of one of fashion’s most recognisable companies.
Biography (Virgil Abloh)
Virgil Abloh, a Ghanaian-American creative director, broke down barriers in the traditionally dominated fashion industry by elevating streetwear to the top echelons of the luxury market and becoming one of the few Black designers to hold the position of creative director at a significant luxury brand.
He reimagined the position of creative director by giving it the love of remixing that hip-hop has, the sense of community that skateboarding has, and the desire for social change. Additionally, by interacting directly with his followers both online and offline and providing them with “cheat codes” and “trailers of knowledge” about how to start their own companies, he helped open doors to a larger cast of creatives.
His reputation as a multi-talented creative genius with financial expertise and nearly superhuman drive earned him the moniker “Karl Lagerfeld of his generation.”
Virgil Abloh, who was born in 1980 to Ghanaian parents, was raised in a Chicago suburb. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 2002, he continued his education by enrolling at the Illinois Institute of Technology to study architecture. When they both interned at Fendi in 2009, he first gained notoriety as Kanye West’s creative director.
Pyrex Vision, his first clothing line, was introduced by Virgil Abloh in 2012, and he later joined forces with Matthew Williams and Heron Preston to form the Been Trill collective. In 2013, he teamed up with the business that would later become New Guards Group to introduce the upscale streetwear phenomenon Off-White. In 2017, he launched a significant partnership with Nike in which ten of its iconic sneakers were dissected. And in 2018, he succeeded Kim Jones as the house of Louis Vuitton’s artistic director of menswear.
The American Dream and Virgil Abloh’s own boundary-pushing journey along a personal “Yellow Brick Road” of sorts, from Illinois to the Emerald City of Paris, were referenced in his first show for Louis Vuitton, which featured a diverse cast of models walking down a rainbow runway wearing a collection inspired by the 1939 musical film “The Wizard of Oz.”
In July 2021, the parent company of Louis Vuitton, LVMH, solidified its partnership with designer Virgil Abloh by acquiring a majority stake in the company through which he owned the intellectual property of Off-White and appointing him to a previously unheard-of position working across the entirety of LVMH’s vast portfolio to “leverage together the group’s expertise to launch new brands and partner with existing ones in a variety of sectors beyond the realm of
Virgil Abloh lost his battle with the rare malignancy cardiac angiosarcoma in November 2021 at the age of 41. His passing sparked a wave of grief among influential people and close associates in the fashion, music, and art industries. Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH, praised Virgil Abloh at the time as a “brilliant designer, a visionary, as well as a man with a wonderful soul and profound insight.”