The terrain of fashion today credits a majority of its aesthetic sensibility to the boundless creativity of Virgil Abloh. The designer, who died from cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare form of cancer, at the age of 41 on November 28 in Chicago, was called the fashion visionary, but there was no denying that his prodigious work shaped the present. As the founder of the cult brand Off-White and the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear division, Abloh, a first-generation Ghanaian American, was a pioneer in the global fashion scenario—his influence transcended the boundaries of only clothes.
Abloh’s creative genius spread across myriad mediums and defied conformity. His mother was a seamstress which influenced him to sew his own clothes as a teenager before he set forth to pursue fashion. He also studied civil engineering and obtained a degree in Architecture.
Off-white, Abloh’s iconic streetwear brand, brought the excitement of a much-hyped collaboration to the world of high fashion and luxury. With Off-White, he collaborated with many premium brands and companies, including Rimowa, Mercedes Benz, the NBA, Levi’s, Moncler, Jimmy Choo, Kith, Timberland and Byredo. His most notable collaborative relationship, however, may have been with Nike, with which he did multiple collections, one of which netted him the “Shoe of the Year” award at the 2017 Footwear News Achievement Awards. With Nike, he also designed competition outfits for Serena Williams. Abloh’s talents were also in high demand by many of his celebrity friends, who commissioned bespoke creations running the gamut from Hailey Bieber’s Off-White wedding dress and veil that read “Till death do us part” in Abloh’s signature irony quotes to Drake’s personal plane that he had Abloh customise with an ethereal blue sky and cloud pattern. Although Abloh’s body of work was often dictated by his talent to capture the essence of an era, his gift lies with his expensive curiosity and unflinching desire to create.
The Louis Vuitton Miami show was a visual tribute (and an emotional one at that) to Virgil Abloh, as friends, collaborators and fans paid homage to him under fireworks and a drone light show. The Spring/Summer 2022 Men’s show marked Abloh’s historical last as the celebrated Creative Director for Menswear.
The front row included longtime supporter Kanye West, who sat next to Kim Kardashian and their daughter North. Other front-row attendees were Rihanna and ASAP Rocky, Pharrell Williams, Joe Jonas, Ricky Martin, Venus Williams, Bella Hadid, 21 Savage and Joan Smalls.
Just before 7 PM, as the mood shifted from somber to party mode, a dazzling light show filled the sky. It began as a paper plane (a predominant icon in Abloh’s collections), before fluctuating into avatars of the Louis Vuitton monogram, a palm tree and the initials “L.V.,” which turned into “V.A.” For the finale, the drones spelled “Virgil was here” (goosebump-inducing); within moments, these mesmerising visuals of tributes went viral on social media.