Examining Virgil Abloh's widespread influence and vast contributions to the cultural zeitgeist, END. pay homage to the late creative pioneer.
Last night, the world was shook by the news of Virgil Abloh’s untimely passing from a private battle with a rare health condition. A steadfast pillar of the global fashion community with his work as the founder of Off-White and his historic appointment as Artistic Director of Menswear at Louis Vuitton, Abloh’s influence, passion and dedication to the culture saw the 41-year-old ascend from designing album covers for Kanye West to his role as the first black creative director at one of the world’s most influential and prestigious fashion houses.
Renowned for his cross-disciplinary approach to design, the Illinois native’s apotheosis and canonisation started with a fateful internship at Fendi in 2009 and continued throughout his working career. The ground zero of Abloh’s impact, this entry into the world of luxury fashion saw the then 29-year-old meet his classmate, the rapper-producer and fellow Chicago native, Kanye West. Striking up a collaborative relationship with the already infamous musician, soon after, West appointed Abloh as the Creative Director of his agency, DONDA, designing album covers for the rapper's collaboration with Jay Z, "Watch The Throne" and his fifth studio album, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy". In the subsequent years, with his work as Pyrex Vision, the designer broke down the walls of conventional fashion design, screen-printing logos onto Polo Ralph Lauren flannel shirts and starting his journey into the heart of the fashion industry, transforming it from the inside out.
With Pyrex Vision, Off-White, and his work at Louis Vuitton, Abloh cultivated a unique aesthetic world that encapsulated his elevated approach to streetwear design – a perspective that offered something innovative and inspiring, utilising methods that broke down barriers within the industry and saw a commitment to positive change as well as the real-time results of his own creative drive. A champion of the culture with his all-encompassing tastes, talents and interests, Abloh’s output has had a far-reaching impact greater than anyone could have predicted.
From the legendary “The Ten” collaboration with Nike to his ground-breaking work at Louis Vuitton, the legacy that Abloh has left behind is a testament to his belief in self-actualisation and his “open-sourcing” method of working. A notorious workaholic, Abloh’s creativity and dedication, despite serious illness, offers a poignant reflection on the world we inhabit and how his impact and methods have driven change in a previously closed sphere. Inspirational to many, Abloh cultivated a culture within fashion that championed new possibilities, that opened doors that were previously closed and redefined how many up-and-coming young creatives saw the world that was previously seen in black and white binaries. As Off-White’s iconic tagline famously reads - “Defining the grey area between black and white as the colour Off-White” – Abloh chose to occupy the space in-between things, thriving on a creative ideology that was unrestrained and positive, culminating in his status as one of the key cultural voices of the 21st Century.
In a world where a DJ can become a fashion designer, where an artist can design a sneaker and a streetwear aficionado with no formal fashion design education can become the Artistic Director of a prestigious fashion house, Abloh’s impact has not only created change in the present but will surely continue to inspire new generations and empower them to break free from the constraints of the status quo.
An unparalleled icon of the modern generation, whose creativity and genius saw him rise to new and unprecedented heights, Virgil Abloh’s legacy will continue to live on in those he inspired and in his era-defining contributions to fashion, art, music, design and the culture industry on the whole.
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