The fashion world was rocked by the unexpected passing of Off-White founder Virgil Abloh on Nov. 28. The Chicago native died at the age of 41 from a rare cancer called cardiac angiosarcoma which causes tumors to develop in muscles or blood vessels surrounding the heart, according to Cedars-Sinai Hospital. He was more than just a fashion designer, Abloh was a revolutionary architect. His whimsical and youthful designs served as pillars of hope for other young Black fashion designers looking to crack into the industry. The Ghanaian couture icon persistently rallied for diversity, inclusion, and “a seat at the table” to bring forth real systemic change in the fashion world, whether it was through his Post-Modern Scholarship Fund championing for equity and mentorship for designers of color or featuring a diverse line of models in his avante-garde and often gender fluid pieces, Abloh designed clothing with a purpose. Perhaps way beyond our current time.
At the ripe age of 22, Abloh met his close collaborator and friend Kanye West in 2002. The steadfast designer would team up with the rapper as his creative consultant to produce a number of conceptual designs for the “Life of Pablo” hitmaker’s merchandise and album covers including “Watch The Throne,” his 2011 collaborative project alongside Jay-Z. The duo later scored an internship with Fendi where they learned the ins and outs of the fashion design business. Abloh took that knowledge to kick start his very first fashion line called Pyrex Vision in 2012, a luxury streetwear line that would set the tone for the birth of Off-White later that year. Off-White, presumably picked up where Pyrex left off, intertwining the world of high fashion with the grungy youthful appeal of streetwear. Prior to his passing, Abloh served as the Men’s artistic director for Louis Vuitton where he became the first Black person to work at the top of the French heritage house.
Virgil Abloh might be gone, but he certainly will never be forgotten for his outstanding legacy. Let’s take a look back at some of his most iconic looks.
Abloh’s “A Formality Tie”
Back in July, paparazzi caught Abloh during Paris Fashion Week sporting a sleek black blazer jacket paired with black flared suit pants. The inimitable fashion giant spruced up the ensemble by embroidering multicolored buttons across the jacket, adding an unexpected touch to the look. Abloh sported a tie that read “A Formality” on the front. It’s the designer to the core– simple yet complex.
Off-White’s “OFFKAT” Collection
An homage to graffiti and streetwear culture, OFFKAT served as a time continuum of the style’s urban origins.
Louis Vuitton’s “Ebonics” Collection
During his time with Louis Vuitton, Abloh took risks incorporating elements of his rich Ghanaian background into his off-runway statement pieces. Back in January, he released his 6th collection with the fashion giant called “Ebonics,” a tribute to his rich heritage.
“When I grew up, my father wore Kente cloth, with nothing beneath it, to family weddings, funerals, graduations,” the Chicago native said in a statement about the collection, according to Vogue. “When he went to an American wedding, he wore a suit. I merged those two together, celebrating my Ghanaian culture. Add LV patterns to the cloth, drape it, then pair and compare it again with tartan checks, and the result is indeed something new,” he continued. “The diagonal green-on-white print on a leather motocross suit. A memory of the wax print fabric my mom had around the house when I was growing up,” he chuckled. “She was the one who taught me to sew, and she had learned it with a tailor in Ghana.”
The line featured the playful Louis Vuitton Airplane Bag. The 41-year-old said he was inspired by “tourist vs. purist” archetypes when creating the expensive item that retails for a whopping $39,000. “It’s my organizing principle for my point of view when I make things,” Abloh shared to Vogue in January. “A tourist is someone who’s eager to learn, who wants to see the Eiffel Tower when they come to Paris. The purist is the person who knows everything about everything.”
Abloh’s Met Gala Custom Graffiti Blazer
Abloh shined on the red carpet at The Met Gala back in September. The designer rocked a show-stopping custom-tailored White blazer with the word “Modernism” spray-painted on the front. The fashion architect paired the look with frilled pants. , He later revealed that the piece was a part of his “A Formality” series.
Louis Vuitton Air Force 1 Sneaker
The DJ and designer partnered with Nike back in June on the Louis Vuitton’s Air Force 1 sneaker, a classic shoe from the sneaker giant that was embroidered with the high fashion Italian line’s storied logo. The collab was such a hit that the shoe sold out within seconds.