Virgil Abloh was a genius in the world of fashion. This American fashion designer was known as a ‘Renaissance man’ in the history of fashion and style. He took up the position of artistic director of Louis Vuitton's menswear collection in 2018. His recent death on November 28, 2021, left a huge void in the world of creativity and charisma.
He founded the Milan-based label Off White in 2013 and worked in the capacity of CEO for the brand till his last breath. A rare type of cancer (cardiac angiosarcoma) took this talented designer away from the world at the young age of 41.
Let's look at some of the remarkable contributions of the transformative designer whom Time magazine recognized as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2018.
1) Mixing Streetwear and Haute Couture: Virgil Abloh’s initial training in dressmaking came from his mother, a seamstress. With a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2002, Virgil Abloh wanted to create an amalgamation of street fashion with the mainstream Haute Couture presented in the four famous fashion weeks.
While doing his Master’s in Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Virgil Abloh designed T-shirts, and his journey as a fashion designer started from there. He even wrote about contemporary fashion for a well-known blog, ''The Brilliance.''
2) Shoe Line For Jimmy Choo: Virgil Abloh’s brand Off White collaborated with Jimmy Choo and created shoes and other fashion accessories. His plastic bag-wrapped Jimmy Choo shoes became sensational in 2018.
This collection took inspiration from the wardrobe of the late Princess Diana. There were quilted boots, which reminded the onlookers about the 80s. Usage of PVC in crystal-embellished stilettos was a unique idea conceptualized by Virgil Abloh.
3) Starting Pyrex Vision: Even though Virgil Abloh didn’t have any formal education in fashion designing, he went ahead and started the PYREX vision couture streetwear boutique in 2012.
This venture experimented with screen printing and the use of deadstock garments. These deadstock garments used the vintage Ralph Lauren pieces and ‘’BeenTrill’’ collective, making these fusions phenomenal.
Virgil collaborated with Heron Preston and Matthew Williams, and the “Beentrill’’ venture took off immediately in the Paris Fashion Week and other fashion weeks. Virgil’s success as a designer started from here on.
4) Birth of Fashion Label Off-White: Virgil Abloh finally founded his own fashion label Off White in 2012. The main theme of his venture remained the fusion strategy of streetwear with mainstream fashion.
In this brand, casual garments were made with luxury fabrics, and this trend was accepted in the upper class of society. The stripes and arrow logo became synonymous with Virgil Alboh. In August 2019, José Neves, the owner of Farfetch, acquired New Guards Group, the parent organization of Off White. Eventually, in July 2021, LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton) took a 60% stake in the label Off White. Virgil retained the remaining 40% stake along with the responsibility of running the brand as a creative director.
This is the success story of Off White in a nutshell, and the contribution to the world of fashion was phenomenal. The fusion strategy used by Virgil became popular instantaneously, and to date, there are takers of these creations.
5) Adorning the Louis Vuitton Finery: The collaboration with Kanye West bore more fruit in the coming years. In 2009, both the visionaries showed off their collection in Paris Fashion Week.
Photographer Tommy Ton captured Virgil and Kanye West along with Don C, Chris Julian, and Taz Arnold Fonzworth Bentley. That iconic picture even inspired the satirical animated show South Park. All of them wore Louis Vuitton, and the unique way of carrying bags and hats was appreciated by the fashion world.
Dripping in Louis Vuitton
South Park’s adaptation of the above picture
6) King of Remixing and Rebranding: Virgil Abloh gave a lot of importance to youth subcultures. With his brand Pyrex Vision, he gave a voice to the experimentation of remixing and rebranding. He took inspiration from Ralph Lauren and used them as screen-prints for his button-down shirts, basketball shorts, flannel shirts, and champion hoodies. Even though in 2013, Pyrex Vision was shut down, it became the forefront of his iconic venture Off White.
Virgil had the ability to copy the artwork of other prominent designers and present it in his own style.
7) Collaboration with Nike: “The Ten,” a partnership with Nike in 2017, was a giant leap for Virgil Abloh as it made him a popular name in the arena of footwear designing. Virgil reinterpreted ten of Nike's most important styles in this collection.
Among Nike’s most iconic sneakers, Air Maxes, Air Presto, and VaporMaxes were redesigned by Virgil. This collection contained hand-cut sneakers and zip-ties, and craft knives were used to reconstruct them. His self-referential logos, “AIR” and “FOAM” were imprinted on these sneakers.
Nike Off White ‘The Ten’ Collection
8) Printed Cape-jacket for Serena Williams: On the occasion of the 2019 French Open, Virgil designed a cape jacket for Serena Williams, which adorned the printed words in French ''Mother, Champion, Queen, Goddess.” This venture in collaboration with Nike made Virgil more prominent in the world of sports. The performance seersucker material used for this jacket was specially crafted by Nike for Serena's success.
Serena Williams wearing the special Nike outfit for the 2019 French Open
9) Bike Shorts and Princess Diana: The Off-White Spring 2018 collection centered on Princess of Wales Diana, and all the 40 looks carried her signature polka dot prints and bike shorts. This collection got him the job as an artistic director for Louis Vuitton. His talent was spotted by Bernard Arnault, the chairman at LVMH.
10) Collaboration with Rimowa: In 2018, Rimowa and Off White created a line of parent-carbonate transparent suitcases that received acclaim at a different level in the world of luggage manufacturing. The users were involved in the designing process, which was very distinctive of Virgil. He always loved being grounded and surrounded by the real users of the products.
Apart from all these, Virgil collaborated with Ikea and launched a furniture line in 2019. The minimalistic designs were loved by all. “The ethos of the collection is to add an artful quality to anonymous objects,’’ stated Virgil while launching the collection.
Levi’s too partnered with Virgil for collaborating their sense of style together. Mineral water company Evian and Off White, too, had a collaboration to impress the end customers.
If you plan to launch a collection to pay your tribute to the famous designer Virgil Abloh, we at Fashinza are with you. You can visit our website to get answers to all your fashion-related queries. You can also reach out to us if you need any help sourcing clothes.