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Virgil Abloh (1980–2021), fashion designer for Louis Vuitton, Off-White

by Linnea Crowther

Virgil Abloh was the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection and the founder of the Off-White fashion house.

Mixing luxury and streetwear

Abloh began to come to prominence as he worked with Kanye West; the two both interned at the Italian fashion house Fendi in 2009 and began collaborating there. Abloh became the creative director of West’s Donda creative agency. In 2013, Abloh founded Off-White, offering high-end streetwear including sneakers, hoodies, and t-shirts. Through Off-White, Abloh collaborated with notable names including Nike, Warby Parker, Levi, and Dr. Martens. He became known for his use of quotation marks in his designs. As Abloh’s star rose, he gained the notice of Louis Vuitton, becoming a finalist for their LVMH prize in 2015. He became artistic director of Vuitton’s menswear line in 2018, the first Black designer in that role. That same year, Abloh was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine. The celebrities Abloh dressed include Spike Lee, for the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, and Hailey Bieber, whose wedding dress was an Off-White original.

Notable quote

“I take pride in the fact that there’s a kid who’s living in, you know, Alabama, who never thought something like this was possible for him, almost to the point that he made life and career decisions to find some other thing he was passionate about. But all of a sudden, because I’m here, he knows [he can do it too].” —from a 2018 interview for GQ

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Tributes to Virgil Abloh

Full obituary: The New York Times

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