Reflecting on Virgil Abloh's Untouchable Legacy

By Chloe Hechter | December 6, 2022

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Throughout his entire career, Virgil Abloh effortlessly intertwined the arts and fashion to curate collections that redefined the industry.

Virgil Abloh PHOTO BY BFA
Virgil Abloh PHOTO BY BFA

The late fashion designer, DJ and entrepreneur Virgil Abloh left a legacy filled to the brim with innovation, inspiration and an unparalleled impact on the Black creative community. Abloh was a quintessential image of the 21st century and its ever-evolving, ever-progressing sense of style with his groundbreaking designs that constantly toed the line between classical and contemporary. Abloh’s genius and ingenuity taught the fashion industry that luxury fashion does not have to fit a societal mold; rather, it can be however an individual chooses to express themselves with their own unique sense of style.

PHOTO COURTESY OF BRND
PHOTO COURTESY OF BRAND

Abloh began his career working with rapper Kanye “Ye” West, and following an internship at Fendi in Rome, he assumed the position of creative director of Donda, West’s creative agency. His first brand, Pyrex Vision, launched in 2012 with a collection of flannel shirts with the word “Pyrex” and the number 23 screenprinted on them as an homage to Abloh’s hero, Michael Jordan. Soon after, he scrapped Pyrex Vision and founded what is perhaps what he is remembered for the most: his revolutionary multiplatform brand, Off-White.

Shots of Virgil Abloh’s final Louis Vuitton collection, Louis Dreamhouse PHOTO COURTESY OF BRND
Shots of Virgil Abloh’s final Louis Vuitton collection, Louis Dreamhouse PHOTO COURTESY OF BRAND

Abloh defined and trademarked Off-White as “the gray area between black and white as the color Off-White,” which became the designer’s trademark. Off-White embraced a one-of-a-kind format in which it encapsulated fields such as art, travel, music, luxury and primarily fashion. Off-White opened its first concept store in Tokyo in 2016 as well as debuting its furniture collection, Grey Area, in Milan.

PHOTO COURTESY OF BRND
PHOTO COURTESY OF BRAND

And finally, Louis Vuitton named Abloh as its men’s artistic director in 2018, where he would go on to curate an eight-collection residency in only four years. One of the final collections, Louis Dreamhouse, took shape from the imagination—with all of the themes and arcs from past chapters coming together for one grand finale. On the runway sat scattered elements of a house. Imagine in one corner a staircase, in another an empty bed, an altered roof, a chimney giving off puffs of steam, and finally a long dining table that welcomed in the Chineke! Orchestra musicians who performed a Tyler the Creator-composed piece.

In all of his collections, Abloh seamlessly fused together art and surrealism with his real-world inspirations and influences. In one campaign, he reimagined Gustave Courbet’s “The Painter’s Studio” from 1855 with a photo of him working on a fitting surrounded by members of his team; in another he brings The Wizard of Oz to life with an all-Black cast adaptation and rainbow runway.

PHOTO COURTESY OF BRND
PHOTO COURTESY OF BRAND

At the final show, chapter eight blooms with 20 dancers and 67 models, and again, we see a nod to a world beyond our own. With only two tapestried looks in the collection, Abloh curated a parka with a reproduction of Giorgio De Chirico’s “The Melancholy of Departure.” The painting boasts classical lines of an Italian square through a metaphysical reality, where De Chirico deliberately painted the same square and dated each work incorrectly. According to the show notes, Abloh dubbed this “Maintainamorphosis,” which he defined as “the principle that ‘old’ ideas should be invigorated with value and presented alongside the ‘new,’ because both are equal in worth.”

Throughout the show, a Jim Phillips-esque Grim Reaper graphic made an appearance, bags came shaped as bouquets and, to close the show, four all-white looks appeared down the runway with some featuring Leonardoesque wings. His very last collection for Louis Vuitton was nothing less than a world of his own, and Abloh will always be remembered for taking one thing and transforming it into another. Louis Vuitton, 973‑564‑9788

Photography by: all courtesy of brand