Virgil Abloh, designer of the menswear collection for luxury brand Louis Vuitton and founder of Off-White , passed away on November 28 at the age of 41 from cancer. He was responsible for changing the fashion industry, having extended this influence to the world of fine arts as well. After the tragic news was shared, through Virgil Abloh's instagram, several celebrities declared their affection and appreciation for the artist. Namely, the editor-in-chief of British Vogue said that the designer was " a giant among men " who always worked " to open the door to art and fashion for future generations, so that they -- unlike himself, would grow up in a creative world with people to mirror themselves in ."
Who was Virgil Abloh?
The designer was born in Rockford, Illinois, on September 30, 1980, studied civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MA in architecture at the Institute of Technology in Illinois. Virgil Abloh began his fashion career as an intern at Fendi's Rome office in 2009, where he met rapper Kanye West, also an intern there. That same year, he opened a retail store in Chicago called RSVP Gallery and in 2012, he founded Pyrex Vision - projects conceived as an artistic experience as well as a commercial venture.
Virgil Abloh, between haute couture and streetwear
In 2018, Virgil Abloh became the artistic director of Louis Vuitton. With its collection that pushed artistic boundaries and defied gender norms, it captured the interest of a younger demographic. His menswear collections, whether at Louis Vuitton or at the brand he founded Off-White, blurred the lines between haute couture and streetwear. Thus, he was considered one of the pioneers of street fashion or the “post-streetwear movement” - a trend with roots in classic streetwear that comes from hip-hop. This trend created by Virgil Abloh has contaminated other luxury houses from Balenciaga , Gucci , to Dior , who started collaborating on limited editions with sports brands like Nike and Supreme . Thus, products like Nike's Air Jordans in collaboration with Dior were born.
In the music world, he was present as a DJ and for collaborating with his longtime friend Kanye West on his albums and other artistic projects. In 2010, Kanye West appointed Virgil Abloh as his creative director, and two years later, the American designer founded high-end streetwear brand Off-White . As an artist and furniture designer, he has collaborated with several companies such as Nike, Ikea, Chrome Hearts, Mercedes Benz and Jimmy Choo.
Virgil Abloh's Influence on Contemporary Art
It was not just on the runway that Virgil Abloh became an influential name, but also in the contemporary art world. The designer has produced individual and group exhibitions with several contemporary artists, where creative innovations and countless references to figures in the history of art, such as the French Dadaist Marcel Duchamp, can be seen. In 2016, Virgil Abloh, in collaboration with conceptual artist Jenny Holzer, created a line that highlighted immigration and cultural exchange in a positive and reassuring way. In 2018, during Paris Fashion Week, Gagosian opened “ TECHNICOLOR 2 ”, in collaboration with artist Takashi Murakami. In 2019, the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art presented Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech, an exhibition so successful that it moved to Atlanta's High Museum of Art and then to the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston and the Museum of Art. Brooklyn.
In 2021, he launched an exclusive collection for the exhibition The Costume Institute, In America: A Lexicon of Fashion at the MET, influenced by the work “This is not a pipe" by René Magritte. The Belgian surrealist artist’s paintings, full of clouds and fantastic figures, inspired several pieces by Abloh, namely the clothes and the runway of the Louis Vuitton menswear 2020 collection.
The clothes designed by the designer always included several references to influential Italian paintings, such as Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa and Giorgio de Chirico's Piazza d'Italia. The artist has mentioned in several interviews that his first collection at Off-White was inspired by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's floating glass house, Farnsworth House . The American designer also designed furniture, and in June 2019, he signed a contract with Parisian studio Galerie Kreo. He has exhibited his furniture pieces at Design Miami, Dark Fantasy at UTA Artist Space in LA and Carpenter's Workshop Gallery, which ran alongside the 2019 Venice Biennale. In addition, he also launched his own furniture line with the design firm. stained glass Through his artworks, luxury pieces and re-imagined streetwear, Virgil Abloh changed fashion culture forever by deconstructing the patterns of culture, art history, trends, graphic design and luxury brands themselves. .