The fashion world woke up to a major loss. Virgil Abloh, the man behind bringing streetwear on the ramp walk, took his last breath yesterday (November 28). The artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection was battling cancer for quite a long time, and finally succumbed to death. He leaves a rich legacy behind.

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After receiving his Master of Architecture in 2006, he channelled his love for fashion into designing t-shirts. His interest in fashion was piqued when while attending IIT, he took notice of a building on campus under construction. The building was designed by architect, Rem Koolhaas, who had also worked on runway collections for Prada. This led Abloh to write about fashion and design for a well-known blog, The Brilliance.

In 2009, he established RSVP Gallery, an art gallery and menswear boutique in Chicago. He then met Kanye West and the two began a collaborative relationship. His work was noticed by Louis Vuitton’s CEO, Michael Burke. West appointed Abloh as the creative director of his creative agency, Donda, overseeing projects like stage shows and concert merchandise. He then set up his first company, Pyrex Vision in 2012, which later was shut down as he did not intend it to be a commercial enterprise, but an artistic experiment. He, however, created a stir with his new lookout on streetwear fashion.

In 2013, Abloh started the high-end streetwear brand Off-White. By the end of 2018, Off-White was ranked as the hottest label in the world, surpassing Gucci. He was named the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear ready wear line in 2018. This feat made him the first person of African descent to lead the brand’s menswear line. He also became one of the few black designers at the helm of a major French fashion house.

Apart from creating a stir in the fashion world, Abloh’s interest in music led him to DJing. Over the years, he gained recognition as a DJ and started playing shows internationally including the Tomorrowland festival. He also collaborated with Pioneer, maker of DJ consoles, to design their transparent CDJ-2000NXS2 and DJM-900NXS2 models. The consoles were displayed at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art in the Figures of Speech Exhibition.

In 2019, Virgil Abloh was diagnosed with cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare type of cancer. He chose to keep the diagnosis private. He died in Chicago on November 28, 2021, at the age of 41.

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