The fashion world is in mourning. Designer and creative Virgil Abloh died at just 41 years old as a result of his cancer, as his employer, the French luxury goods group LVMH announced on Sunday evening, 29th of November 2021.
Abloh, who had been creative director of Louis Vuitton's men's line since 2018, had already been battling a particularly rare form of cancer since 2019 and was undergoing treatment. LVMH Chairman Bernard Arnault commented on the designer's death via a statement saying, "We are all shocked by this terrible news. Virgil was not only a brilliant designer, a visionary, he was also a man with a beautiful soul and great wisdom."
Visionary and multi-artistBorn in the US state of Illinois, Abloh was not your typical storybook fashion designer. "Clothing interests me, but it's not the endpoint of my interest," he once said of his extraordinary career. Despite the fact that he had no classical fashion design training, the creative with Ghanaian roots proved his great ability in many different design disciplines by opening himself up to manifold fields. Among other things, he also worked as a DJ and advised music greats like Kanye West as well as Jay-Z as an artistic consultant for their albums and tours. Not to mention his design collaborations with Ikea, Nike, and Mercedes Benz, to name a few.
Abloh took his first steps in the fashion world with his label 'Pyrex Vision'. His approach: He bought basic Ralph Lauren shirts and provided them with the print 'Pyrex' as well as a '23' on the back. With the number 23, he paid tribute to his childhood hero Michael Jordan. The styles quickly found favor, especially in the hip-hop and R'n'B scene. In 2013, however, he launched his most important fashion project: Off-White. "I think why Off-White exists is to modernize fashion!" he once explained his motives for launching the brand. Not only fashion but also obvious areas such as music, art, videos, and design were to be given a stage in the world of Off-White. The mix of streetwear and high fashion was well received around the world and the brand's success was rewarded with a nomination for the LVMH award for talented young designers, among other things.
Virgil Abloh always knew how to inspire, expand boundaries and work interdisciplinary. The then 37-year-old caused a big stir when, in 2018, as a trained engineer and architect, he took over the design reins at Louis Vuitton Menswear. Not only did he break through the traditional fashion images, but he also set a significant milestone by becoming the first African-American designer to receive this honor. The luxury brand had ambitious plans for him until the very end. As recently as July, LVMH had announced that Abloh would take on additional responsibilities within the group. Thus, the launch of new brands and other projects outside of fashion were targeted. Abloh also leaves behind his two children in addition to his wife.
Photo: @Imaxtree: Virgil Abloh after the Off-White fashion show season H/W 2017.