Following his death in late-November, Virgil Abloh has left a legacy within the creative world with his pioneering work in fashion and streetwear. From his partnership with Kanye West to becoming the first black Creative Director at Louis Vuitton, label volunteer, Emily Jackson, explores the legacy Abloh has established and will be remembered for.
The Early Life of Virgil
Born on 30th September 1980 just outside Chicago, Abloh and his sister were raised by Ghanian immigrant parents. From a young age, the soon-to-be designer learnt the tricks of the trade from his mother who was a seamstress. Abloh then attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison to complete his undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering in 2002. There is gossip that he skipped his final critique to attend a meeting with Kanye West’s then-manager, John Monopoly. Not long after this, Kanye and Virgil would be working together. Abloh further added to his studies in 2006, by completing a Masters degree in Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology. One thing which is interesting to note is that all thought Abloh was a pioneer and legend amongst the fashion industry, his education seemed to be far from this field.
The Kanye and Virgil Partnership
Kanye West and Virgil Abloh’s partnership with one another was integral to both of their designing careers. In 2009, the partnership grew even more when Abloh and West became interns at Fendi in Rome. During this year, the two also made their way around Paris Fashion Week along with their ensemble of famous friends. In 2010, their partnership became a business deal and Abloh became the the Creative Director at Donda – Kanye West’s creative agency.
Something that many of us do not know about Abloh is that he created and designed some of the most famous album covers, particularly within the hip-hop genre. For example, he created the album artwork for Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch the Throne as well as the vibrant red cover of West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. He also designed for other artists like A$AP Rocky, Kid Cudi and Pop Smoke.
The Beginning of Off-White
Off-White is undoubtedly one of Abloh’s most renowned and famous works. Founded in 2013, the company is centred around fashion with a combination of ideas such as: luxury, art, music, travel as well as streetwear. Cleverly, Abloh defined the brand as “the grey area between black and white as the colour of Off-White”. These quotation marks became the trademark amongst Off-White creations. He then later expanded into womenswear in 2014 for the Off-White brand and showcased his collections during Paris Fashion Week. From here, Abloh gained further attention from an array of celebrity clients, such as Beyoncé sporting his clothing, as well as delving into furniture creation for the brand.
The First Black Creative Director for Louis Vuitton
One of Abloh’s most notable career moves was his involvement at Louis Vuitton. In 2018, Abloh joined Louis Vuitton to lead the company’s menswear collection. Virgil Abloh shattered glass-ceilings by becoming the first black Creative Director at the luxury fashion brand. This was massively inspirational and began to pave the way for a much more inclusive field of fashion design.
Virgil Abloh’s work and achievements at Off-White were incredibly influential in not just the world of high-fashion but also the world of streetwear. Amongst his work, Abloh created a connection between both of those worlds which were perhaps separated between the luxury pieces of clothing to the stylish trainers we see on Instagram. Outside of fashion, Abloh was a further creative within music, performing at countless festivals, as well as furniture and artwork. Virgil Abloh’s design is truly unique and significant in luxury fashion and throughout the world of streetwear. His legacy will truly live on amongst not just the fashion industry but also the world of creatives.