By Alejandra Hernandez
A true creative visionary, the first black designer to be at the helm of a major luxury house and to assume a creative partnership across LVMH’s brands. A designer that changed the fashion industry and disrupted systems throughout his entire career. The fashion, art and culture worlds were saddened by the news that Virgil Abloh passed away on November 28, 2021 from a private battle with cardiac angiosarcome, a rare form of cancer. La Gazette joins in this moment of great sorrow, honoring one of our favorite designers of all times: Mr. Virgil Abloh.
In the words of writer Lou Stoppard: “He was an amazing person, a great designer and real support to so many people… He was endlessly curious, endlessly loyal, and he always pushed toward the magnificent, the emblematic – I felt like he wanted everything he did to MEAN something to someone, to people. It was as if he wanted to bottle, and share, that intense awe we feel as youths.“
Virgil Abloh had infinite contributions to fashion, music and art. Let’s go back in time and honor one of the most iconic designers of all times.
He interned at Fendi with Kanye West in the summer of 2009. After their friendship grew, Abloh assumed the title of West’s “creative director” back in 2010. One of their first big projects was Kanye’s joint album with Jay-Z, Watch the Throne.
Abloh founded Off-White. He centered the design aesthetic on diagonal lines and the iconography of American cities: White Arrows. Plain Labels. Industrial packaging with a signature zip tie. High-end fabrics and streetwear shapes. The brand found its way to the top in Paris Fashion Week, back in 2014. Where he even got selected as a finalist for the coveted LVMH Prize.
He Launched the TECHNICOLOR 2 exhibition with Takashi Murakami presented at the Gagosian Gallery in Paris back in 2018. It was inspired by societal observations in a variety of media, which Abloh said was producing a new cultural impact and generated a big conversation in the industry.
Named artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear in 2018. He explored the idea of collaboration, and the possibilities therein. His presence helped bring out a new chapter of design and luxury. He was a master bringing iconic heritage and modern-day culture together. He had no limits and looked at fashion through a different lens until his last day.
He took us to meet Magritte in Heaven. The Mens FW20 collection presented in Paris was surrealistic and breath-taking. Abloh decided to serve up his thoughts on male dress codes: “Something you haven’t seen from me before: the suit.” He also added that menswear can be an automated track, that’s why the show had different breakdowns.
Abloh published a chronicle of his life’s work entitled ‘Figures of Speech’. The nearly 500-page piece featured 1,800 never-before-seen images pulled from Abloh’s archives, with the catalog covering his work and inspiration. It served more as a piece of art than a bestseller.
“Everything I do is for the 17-yeard-old version of myself“. Abloh’s iconic moments are endless. His work ethic and optimism will always be remembered. He opened doors for others and created pathways for greater equality in art and design. Rest in peace Virgil Abloh.