Virgil Abloh: A Legacy in Fashion and Beyond

Creative Director of Louis Vuitton and founder of Off-White, Virgil Abloh, sadly passed away on 28 November 2021. Aged just 41, his contribution to fashion and music throughout his career has made him one of the most legendary names in the creative industries.

Virgil was one of the most innovative creatives to walk the Earth. I do not say this lightly – who else can add “walking” onto trainers and make them look incredible? He founded Off-White in 2013, a company known for chunky quotation marks, zip ties, capital letters and hazard tape.

Despite losing the LVMH award in 2014 (LVMH being a French holding multinational corporation which oversees many notable fashion houses, including Loewe, Fendi, Celine, Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton), his brand is arguably one of the most recognised and iconic in the world.

One of my favourite pieces is from the Resort 2021 Womenswear and is modelled by his good friend, Bella Hadid.

The electric blue mini dress is just stunning and acts as such a beautiful combo with the patent leather boots. I am sure we will see more of this in the seasons to come, both on and off runway!

So, who is Virgil Abloh and why did he mean so much to so many people?

Born to Ghanaian parents in 1980, Vigil Abloh was raised and educated in Illinois. His mother was a seamstress, and this is where he learned how to sew. Despite gaining a Masters’ degree in Architecture in 2006, his heart was with fashion.

In 2009, Abloh took an internship with fashion house, Fendi, where he was in the same class as Ye (formally Kanye West). During this time, the CEO of Louis Vuitton, Michael Burke, took an interest to him. Little did Abloh know, he was set to become the future Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton within the decade.

In fact, he was named the Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton’s Menswear in 2018, making him the company’s first Black Artistic Director and one of the first few Black designers to have a head creative role in the French Fashion House.

This shook the fashion world, but, for me, it brought the realisation that Virgil Abloh was here to make his permanent mark on the industry. This made the general public realise that the black community has so much to offer within this industry.

His debut Spring 2019 Menswear fashion show was one of the most incredible shows I have ever watched. It was one of the best Louis Vuitton shows, in my opinion – his play with colour and the silhouettes he created were just magnificent!

One thing I loved about this show is the diversity: we know that the fashion industry has a history of lacking inclusivity, but Abloh used his position of influence to create a show where everyone was seen. Steve Lacy, Playboi Carti, A$AP Nast, Dev Hynes and Kid Cudi walked the monumental show for Abloh’s debut.

Vogue Runway, Photo: Yannis Vlamos 

He became high in demand after this show, creating the iconic outfits for Serena Williams throughout the 2018 US open, and designing the wedding dress for Hailey Bieber.

Instagram: Virgil Abloh, Instagram Hailey Bieber

His contribution to the music industry should also be known. He was the Artistic Director of the legendary Kanye West and Jay-Z album Watch the Throne, earning him a Grammy Nomination in 2011 (The nomination was Best Recording Package. I, too, didn’t know this was a thing).

Abloh is the creative behind many of the most iconic album covers, further solidifying him as a formidable creative. He was not bound to just fashion: when he wanted to create, he did just that.

Kanye West, 808s & Heartbreak (UMG Recordings) 
Kanye West, My beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (UMG Recordings) 
Kanye West, Yeezus (Def Jam) 
Jay-Z and Kanye West, Watch the Throne (His Artistic Direction earned him a Grammy Nomination) (S. Carter Enterprises/ Roc Nation) 

 A$AP Rocky, Long.Live.A$AP (A$AP Rocky Recordings/ RCA/ Polo Ground) 
Westside Gunn, Pray For Paris (Griselda Records) 

He was also a DJ, performing at Tomorrowland Festival and has released his own music that can be found on all streaming platforms.

He was sadly diagnosed with cancer in 2019, yet he chose to continue working and creating. He is a true legend and will be missed by, not just his friends and family, but people like me who were impacted by his work.

He made the impossible possible and undoubtedly continues to inspire many, especially those within the black community. He raised the bar; he broke the glass ceiling so that so many of us could follow suit and his legacy will continue through the industries and lives he impacted.

Virgil Abloh once said “Everything I do is for the 17-year-old version of myself.” I choose to believe that he made that 17-year-old proud with the life that he lived. Rest In Peace and Power.

Debbie Maburutse is a sociology student in her second year. She enjoys both fashion and music. Her Instagram handle is @Debbiemaburutse

Feature Image: British GQ

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