Virgil Abloh: The Icon Behind Fashion’s Renaissance

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Virgil Abloh: The Icon Behind Fashion’s Renaissance

The tragic and sudden loss that is Abloh’s passing sheds light on the immense impact his creativity had on our contemporary universe. A multi-disciplined artist, he paved the way for fashion’s renaissance, positioning himself as a jack of all trades with Midas’ touch, tranforming all he touched into solid gold icons.

Virgil Abloh: The Multi-Faceted Artist, The Entrepeneur And The Humanist

A visionary, the “Renaissance-Man”, an entrepeneur and a genius; in these times of recollection, there is no shortage of adjectives to qualify Virgil Abloh’s incredible impact on fashion’s universe, and rightly so: his talent, his vision, his burning desire to bring diversity into the realm of creative industries, all of these were beautifully expressed through his music, his designs, his art and his fashion.

The most impressive jack of all trades of his generation, everthing he came to touch turned into gold; a true Midas’ touch. He provoked mass histerias the likes of the British Invasion in the 60s; from his sneakers, his artwork, his ultra-creative vision for Louis Vuitton’s iconic pieces, and so much more … Virgil Abloh marked and will vontinue to mark the world of fashion with the many revolutions he sparked, starting with collaborations.

Virgil Abloh

A true amateur of luxury collaborations, Virgil Abloh has joined hands with brands, artists, sports figures and visions, always keeping his signature visuals and politics at the heart of his co-branded creations.

Virgil Abloh: An Iconic Signature

To the image of Andy Warhol or Marcel Duchamps, both to whom he referred to on a daily basis, Virgil Abloh managed to develop his own graphical universe. Far from being a simple aesthetic signature, this universe conveyed more that just a simple meaning. All you needed to do was recognise a sentence, a word, an expression placed between inverted commas at the right place for it to be immediately associated with Virgil Abloh’s work.

Virgil Abloh

“For Money” was stamped on wallets. “Don’t Look Down” was stamped on his sunglasses. “For Walking” was stamped on his boots. His own brand, Off-White, served as an anchor for his political openness and positions as well as his views on diversity in fashion’s most elite instances and circles. Rapidly become one of the most popular brands in the world, Off-White acted as Virgil Abloh’s creative pedestal, allowing his to flip fashion and the notion of luxury right on its head.

As a Milan based hybrid between streetwear and couture techniques, Abloh has rarely since created such a meeting point between “high” and “low” cultures. Officially dubbed OFF-WHITE c/o Virgil Abloh, the meta-brand, deconstructively streetwear-meets-couture has largely conributed to redistributing fashion’s cards.

Classicisim and in the now, irony and aspiration, wealth and self-invention, streetwear and fashion, street-art and art, street culture and runway culture; all were mixed and matched, wed to one another to birth a new vision of fashion and luxury, one with many identities and facets.

Luxury brands turned towards streetwear aesthetics, solely thanks to Abloh, and once he was named creative director of Louis Vuitton’s mens department in 2018, the Chicago native blended his revolutionary vision with the more aristocratic, toned down and luxurious vision of France’s biggest luxury brand.

His vision of the Keepall bag, of the LV monogram and overall of the Louis Vuitton men’s department have deeply changed the face of fashion. As a true creative powerhouse, he is leaving behind more than just a highly influential icon …

Virgil Abloh: An Iconic Heritage

Thus, Virgil has often delivered strong messages through his co-branded releases and their inspiring ambassadors; Serena Williams wore a superhero-esque outfit courtsey of the designer, for the 2019 Roland Garros tournament, on which one could read the words “Mother, Champion, Queen, Goddess”, in French.

Virgil Abloh

Jay-Z as well; with Kanye West, one of his mentors, Abloh managed to give birth to a new rap aesthetic: Kanye West’s Graduation album cover, as well as many others for A$AP Rocky or Drake, for example.

All these covers were back then part of rap’s avant-garde. Sp much so, that in 2011, he was nominated for a Best Album Cover Grammy through his Kanye West and Jay-Z Watch The Throne album cover design.

However, it’s with Nike, and through the sneaker universe, that Virgil Abloh left a permanent mark; raising this very universe to the rank of absolte, where pieces are excganged for the same prices as certain paintings: among these new objects of desire, the most sought after ones are those that bear Virgil Abloh’s seal, especially those made in collaboration with Nike.

Virgil’s Air Jordan 1 was to become the flagbearer of a 10 sneaker collaboration with Nike, dubbed “The Ten”. The collection offered the designer’s takes on the Air Max 90, the Air Presto, the Air VaporMax, the Blazer Mid, the Zoom Fly SP, the Air Force 1 Low, the React Hyperdunk 2017 and the Air Max 97, all icons of Nike’s repertoire. Later on, he also reinvented the Converse Chuck Taylor range.

Virgil Abloh

For Ikea, Abloh put forth, in an even more emphasised way, his vision of luxury for all. He often said that one should make art and fashion for future generations to grow along with the idea that anything they put their minds to is possible, no matter the ir social background or skin tone; thus, with Ikea, he offered a larger audience the power to acquire his personal revolutionary vision of design at lower prices.

Tragically lost on this passed Sunday 28th of November 2021, Virgil Abloh leaves behind way more than just a collection of iconic fashion statements; he leaves behind a new creative philosophy, one that allows anyone and everyone the possibility to reach higher and break the status-quo, to aim higher than prejudice and subconscious norms. That is the true nature of his message.