Iconic American designer Virgil Abloh left a void in the fashion industry and the hearts of all his fans with his sudden demise on November 28, 2021, after a private battle with cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare form of cancer. He was 41. The menswear artistic director of Louis Vuitton and founder of Off-White reigned the realm of the fashion industry with his different approach and out-of-the-way thinking.
Being one of the first Black designers to head a European luxury house, Louis Vuitton, Virgil proved to be an inspiration for many others who followed his lead. Starting off as an architect in the initial years, he left it for good and entered the world of fashion with an internship at Fendi alongside rapper Kanye West, now called- Ye. Their artistic collaboration became the talk of the town as the duo was spotted at fashion weeks. He took up the role of creative director at Kanye’s creative agency Donda, in 2009.
In 2012, the American designer launched his first-ever brand Pyrex Vision, by purchasing Ralph Lauren’s deadstock flannel shirts at $40 each. The creative genius dedicated his first line to childhood idol Michel Jordan by printing the word ‘Pyrex’ and number 23 on those shirts that were sold for $550 each. Later he pulled down the shutters for Pyrex and created a revolution with his iconic brand, Off-White in 2013. Calling it “the gray area between black and white as the color Off-White,” his brand merged streetwear with luxury and art. Virgil changed the face of street-style fashion with his creative thinking and far-fetched vision and it showed. Quotation marks soon became his trademarks. In 2014, the designer launched the womenswear collection and displayed his collection at the Paris Fashion Week. In 2018, he became the first Black artistic director of men's wear at Louis Vuitton in the French design house's history. In the same year, the designer was also named one of Time magazine's most influential people. Iconic!
Speaking of the collaborations, Virgil’s partnership with Nike send the fashionistas into the frenzy by introducing a line of sneakers with a variety of styles and Helvetica fonts. He also designed furniture for IKEA and curated Big Mac cartons for McDonald's.
His career trajectory is iconic and inspiration worthy in every sense but it was his hard work, determination, and unbending spirit that made a difference. Coming from a different walk of career, he carved a niche for himself and cemented his position as one of the most influential designer of colour in the fashion fraternity. Bringing something so casual as hoodies on the runway, he redefined the street style and how!
Born in 1980, Virgil is survived by his wife Shannon Abloh and his children, Lowe and Grey. For two years, the designer privately battled the fatal aggressive cancer along with changing treatments all while helming several significant institutions that span fashion, art, and culture. A genius, maverick and mastermind, Virgil will surely go down as a creative pioneer whose legacy would last forever.
Rest in Power, Virgil. You will be forever missed!
(Source- Vogue, The Hindu)