Tribute to Virgil Abloh
Virgil Abloh was an American fashion designer born in Chicago in 1980, and obsessed with fashion, art, design and culture already from an early age. Let’s take a look at his journey – from being an intern at Fendi and collaborating with Kanye West to creating the Off-White brand and becoming the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s line for men.
A young emigrant from Ghana graduates with a degree in engineering in 1998, while his mother, who’s a dressmaker, continuously teaches him tricks of the trade. After meeting John Monopoly at the turn of the millennium, Virgil Abloh and Kanye West begin to collaborate. In 2006, Abloh graduates with a master’s degree in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology, which, as he admits himself, sparks his interest and opens his path to fashion.
Kanye West’s and Virgil’s collaboration results in a joint internship at Fendi, an Italian fashion house. Later on, in 2010, the clothes designer officially obtains the position of creative director at Donda, West’s creative agency. Another landmark date is 2011 when the cover of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch the Throne album is created. Behind the concept art are Virgil Abloh and Riccardo Tisci from Givenchy, and the album receives a Grammy Award nomination. Just a year later, Virgil Abloh launches his first brand, Pyrex Vision, in… New York. His idea is based on a classic bootleg. On the back of old Ralph Lauren flannel shirts bought for $40 apiece, he screen-prints the word Pyrex and the number 23 – in tribute to his childhood idol, Michael Jordan. He resells them at $550 apiece. Less than a year later, Abloh closes Pyrex and starts Off-White, a creative multi-platform enterprise based in Milan. Fashion becomes its main medium. In the new Off-White brand, Virgil Abloh combines the idea of streetwear with the concepts of luxury, art, music and travel, defining it as “the grey area between black and white, or the Off-White colour.” In 2016, his actions gain momentum and together with Off-White, he opens his first concept shop in Aoyama district in Tokyo. Interestingly, the boutique has a water dispenser, and visitors can take the provided cups – all bearing the Off-White logo – for free and resell them in the second-hand market. A year later, in Milan, Virgil makes his debut with Grey Area, his first furniture collection. This is the beginning of the creation of interior design elements under the Off-White banner. The collection is composed of chairs, benches and tables that feature iron lattice, leather cushions and Carrara marble tops. Other breakthroughs include joint projects with Nike and IKEA. The Nike × Off-White “The Ten” and Nike × Off-White “20” collections are particularly memorable. The “exaggerated” designs with distinctive plastic bands are now worth insane amounts of money in the secondary circulation market, and getting them new borders on the miraculous. Virgil’s crowning achievement was becoming the artistic director overseeing Louis Vuitton’s line for men. Sadly, he died prematurely on 28 November 2021 after a battle with cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare form of cancer. He was 41 years old [*].
„Dreams come true when you don’t sleep”
R.I.P Virgil Abloh