The death of Virgil Abloh on November 28 has come as a great shock, as his diagnosis with an aggressive form of cancer had not been revealed until his passing. In just 41 years of life, Abloh became one of the most central figures in the creative world — bridging high-fashion, streetwear, sneakers, and music amongst one of the most far-reaching resumes you’ll ever see.
The loss of Abloh is colossal, and were it not for his health issues it would have been hard to see his grip on culture weaken in the foreseeable future. His work with Kanye West, Off-White, and Louis Vuitton cannot be overstated in its influence, and generations will follow under under the lead of a man who was remarkably generous with his time and support.
To celebrate and honor the incredible life of Abloh, we’ve put together a primer on a career that’s ended sooner than we ever would have expected. The legacy of his timeline, however, will live on through the countless amount of talent Abloh’s fostered and inspired.
Abloh is born September 30 in the Chicago suburb Rockford to his Ghanian immigrant parents. He grows up with an interest in skateboarding, hip-hop, and their associated styles. His mother’s trade as a seamstress also provides an early education in fashion.
Abloh forms the Been Trill along with Matthew Williams, Heron Preston, Justin Saunders (aka jjjjound), and Florencia Galarza — all Donda alumni. The collective throws parties and DJs before expanding into streetwear. During the same year he also launches Pyrex Vision, Abloh’s first proper brand that becomes notorious early for screen-printing Rugby Ralph Lauren flannels and marking up the price by 700 percent.
Abloh shifts his focus from Pyrex Vision, which he viewed as something of a joke, to the newly launched Off-White, a proper label that will go on to have its womenswear debut in 2014 at Paris Fashion Week. In 2015, Abloh is named an LVMH Grand Prize and Special Prize finalist for his work at Off-White, beginning to cement him as a household name in high fashion.
Abloh is named artistic director of Louis Vuitton menswear, as he replaces friend and mentor Kim Jones and showcases his first collection on a rainbow, Wizard of Oz-themed runway in June at Paris Fashion Week. Takashi Murakami partners with Abloh for an exhibition at the Gagosian this same year, and Abloh also holds a guest lecture at the Harvard School of Design.
Abloh first enlists legendary Japanese designer Nigo of Bape and Human Made to design a collaborative line known as LV². After commissioning Futura to create artwork live during a Louis Vuitton show the year prior, Abloh bridges the past further by tapping the graffiti artist for an Off-White capsule and an unreleased Off-White Nike Dunk Low.
The announcement of Abloh’s death reveals he had been battling cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer, since 2019. Louis Vuitton announces it will go forward with the runway show for Abloh’s SS22 collection as a tribute to his life and legacy November 30 in Miami.