Leading by Design

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Photo Courtesy of Wiki Commons

Virgil Abloh led a life of creative triumphs and made a name for himself in the fashion industry.

Grace Choi, Culture Editor

On November 28th, 2021, the globe was struck with tragic news: Virgil Abloh, Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton’s Menswear and CEO of Off-White, had passed away. Abloh was just 41 when he died, having combated cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare cancer, for two years. 

Abloh’s life began on September 30th, 1980, in Rockford, Illinois, and he was raised by his Ghanaian immigrant parents. From a young age, Abloh was surrounded by skate culture and hip-hop, both of which largely influenced his future creative endeavors. 

Abloh never studied fashion, yet the environment he grew up in and his master’s degree in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology shaped him into a brilliant mastermind of fashion. 

Abloh’s road to success began with his encounter with the rapper Kanye West. West’s sneaker collaboration with Louis Vuitton sent him and his creative team (including Abloh) to Paris for fashion week. Abloh’s career only went uphill from then on. He quickly became a member of Louis Vuitton and the CEO of his own brand, Off-White. 

Abloh was adored by many for his new and unprecedented way of translating “fashion” in his own language. Abloh was a passionate artist and fashion theorist who was committed to redefining fashion. To him, clothing was not a source of money. He never created clothes for the satisfaction of his consumers. Instead, clothing was an output for his creativity and expressions. He used fashion as a canvas to paint his vision. 

Abloh’s demonstration of bravery in constructing a new type of fashion was praised by many. Fervent advocates of fashion praised his effort in producing clothes that broke the “rules of fashion.”

“Virgil was not only a genius designer and a visionary, he was also a man with a beautiful soul and great wisdom,” stated Bernard Arnault, CEO of Louis Vuitton Menswear. 

Supermodel Gigi Hadid added on, “I picture him now like our Mickey Mouse…Forever with us, forever adored, forever magical, forever guiding us with that Virgil FUN…”

Virgil Abloh’s hard work has left an indelible mark on today’s fashion, and there is no doubt he will be remembered as fashion’s “Mickey Mouse.” He has paved the way for future artists to unapologetically break the fashion rules and incorporate their culture and creativity into their works.