Virgil Abloh, the founder of the fashion brand Off-White and Louis Vuitton’s artistic director for menswear, passed away on Sunday, November 28 after battling against a rare cancer for 2 years. He was considered one of the fashion’s best designers for the barriers he broke and the risks he took when styling for a traditional luxury brand such as Louis Vuitton. His design style caused him to stand out amongst Black creators and establish himself forever in the fashion world as a prolific influence. His mind associated fashion with the likes of art and music rather than just clothes and accessories. His work at Louis Vuitton saw him combine streetwear with high couture in menswear, pushing the boundaries of high fashion and bringing in a fresh twist on runways. Abloh was never afraid to challenge gender norms as seen in many of the pieces he designed for both Off-White and celebrities.
Abloh’s fellow designers and colleagues describe his impact as something that resonated with the younger generations, allowing him to successfully push the boundaries of streetwear to make it pleasing for both the industry and teenagers. His designs were always used as a way to communicate his ideas on culture beyond outfits and runways. One of the reasons Abloh had such a big impact within the industry was his love of hip-hop and talent for styling. Many of Abloh’s designs embodied elements of hip-hop that had influenced the designer when he was a 17-year-old growing up in the ’80s and ’90s. He used his musical background and street culture to create a unique style and edgier high fashion. He not only pushed boundaries within Louis Vuitton, but he also went above and beyond for his own brand Off-White. He used his label to change the idea surrounding logos in high fashion by introducing an alternative to the high-end design logos of other fashion houses.
On Tuesday, November 30, the fashion world paid tribute to Virgil Abloh’s legacy in Miami. Louis Vuitton held a presentation of Abloh’s Spring-Summer 2022 collection for 1,500 esteemed guests at Miami Marine Stadium to celebrate Abloh’s life legacy. Celebrities who had been impacted by Abloh filled the stadium, including the likes of Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, Bella Hadid, Joe Jonas, and more. The tribute began with an emotional statement from Louis Vuitton’s Chairman and CEO, Michael Burke. He emphasized how Abloh wanted to change the idea surrounding fashion with his creations and allow everyone to see into the world of fashion.
The show displayed a variety of Abloh’s looks as models, including Kid Cudi, strutted the runway in previously revealed looks from Paris Fashion week with a few twists added. A combination of rainbow pieces and tailored menswear filled the runway with a nod back to Abloh’s first show for Louis Vuitton in 2018 that featured a rainbow walkway. The tribute also included a red and gold fireworks show and an accompanying hot air balloon sporting the Louis Vuitton logo. The emotional display was concluded with a myriad of drones spelling out “Virgil was here” behind a statue erected in his honor.
Abloh’s legacy within the fashion industry has been cemented with his impact and innovation in men’s streetwear and fashion. His ability to recognize people’s potential and inspire a generation of new fashion designers made him stand out amongst other prominent designers. He will be remembered for his warm embrace and barrier breaking fashion. His legacy will continue to live on in the next generation he inspired to pursue their dreams and follow their talent in the industry.