Ontario Independent

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Virgil Abloh, a fashion designer, died of cancer at the age of 41

Key takeaways:

  • On Sunday, the luxury giant LVMH and Abloh’s Off-White label, which he founded in 2013, announced Abloh’s death.
  • Abloh’s partnership with West served as a model for future cross-border collaborations that combined high and low. 

Virgil Abloh, a pioneering designer whose breakthrough fusions of streetwear and haute couture made him one of the most well-known tastemakers in fashion and beyond, died of cancer. He was just 41 years old at the time.

The luxury firm LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) and Abloh’s Off-White label, which he launched in 2013, announced Abloh’s death on Sunday. 

Abloh was the menswear artistic director for Louis Vuitton, but his ubiquitous, consumer-friendly presence in culture was broad and dynamic. He’s been compared to Jeff Koons by some. Others compared him to Karl Lagerfeld of his generation.

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“We’re all stunned by this shocking news. Virgil was not just a brilliant designer and visionary. Still, he was also a kind soul with a lot of knowledge, “LVMH Chairman and Chief Executive Bernard Arnault stated in a statement.

Abloh was diagnosed with cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare kind of cancer in which a tumour develops in the heart, two years ago, according to a statement posted on the designer’s Instagram account by his family.

“Since his diagnosis in 2019, he has chosen to fight his struggle in seclusion, undertaking multiple challenging treatments while leading several key institutions spanning fashion, art, and culture,” the statement added.

In 2018, Abloh became Louis Vuitton’s first Black artistic director of men’s clothing in the company’s illustrious history. Abloh, a first-generation Ghanaian American who learned to sew from his mother, had no professional fashion training but did have a bachelor’s degree in engineering and a master’s degree in architecture.

Abloh, who grew up in Rockford, Illinois, just outside of Chicago, was known in the fashion world as a Renaissance guy. 

He also operated as a DJ on the side. He rose to prominence as one of fashion’s most celebrated designers in a short period. Abloh referred to himself as a “creator.” In 2018, he was called one of Time magazine’s most powerful people.

While working at a screen-printing shop in 2009, Abloh met Kanye West, now known as Ye. Abloh was Ye’s creative director when they interned together at the LVMH brand Fendi. Abloh was the art director for Ye-Jay-2011 Z’s album “Watch the Throne,” He received a Grammy nomination.

Abloh’s partnership with West served as a model for future cross-border collaborations that combined high and low. He collaborated with Nike on a range of frenzy-inducing sneakers that were altered with various styles and Helvetica fonts. 

Fashion designer Virgil Abloh dies of cancer at 41

Abloh has also designed furniture for IKEA, Evian refillable bottles, and McDonald’s Big Mac containers. The Louvre, the Gagosian, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago have all shown his work.

The news of Abloh’s death shocked the entertainment industry. On Twitter, actor Riz Ahmed said Abloh “extended culture and changed the game.” “You taught us all how to dream,” wrote fashion designer Jeff Staple. “A compassionate, generous, sensitive, creative genius,” Pharrell Williams said of Abloh.

Abloh applied a “3 percent approach” to fashion, claiming that a new design could be developed by tweaking an old one by 3%. 

Critics claimed Abloh was better at repackaging than inventing new things. Abloh’s style, on the other hand, was both self-aware (quotation marks were a distinctive label for him) and high-minded.

In 2019, Abloh told the New Yorker, “Streetwear in my mind is tied to Duchamp.” “It’s all about the readymade. I’m referring to New York’s Lower East Side. It’s similar to hip-hop. It’s a form of sampling. I take James Brown’s tune, cut it up, and turn it into a new song.”

Stars waited in line to be outfitted by Virgil Abloh. His outfits have been worn by Beyonce, Michael B. Jordan, Kim Kardashian West, Timothee Chalamet, and Serena Williams.

Abloh’s Off-White label, in which LVMH bought a majority share earlier this year, established him as a cool judge. However, Abloh’s employment at Louis Vuitton catapulted him to the pinnacle of an industry in which he had previously been a scrappy outsider — and made him one of the most powerful Black executives in the historically closed fashion business.

“I now have a platform to disrupt the business,” Abloh told GQ as he prepared for his first menswear presentation in 2018.

“We’re designers,” Abloh explained, “so we can start a trend, we can highlight concerns, we can make a lot of people concentrate on something, or we can make a lot of people focus on ourselves.” 

“It’s not something I’m interested in (the latter). I’d like to use my position as one of a very tiny group of African-American males to design a house and exhibit it to the public in a poetic way.”

Shannon Abloh and Lowe, and Grey Abloh, Abloh’s children, survive him.

Source: CTV News

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