By Katie Greenhouse
Known as a ‘genius designer with a beautiful soul’, Virgil Abloh passed away on Sunday 28 November after a private battle with cancer, just aged 41. Born and raised in Illinois, the barrier-breaking designer worked his up way to being one of the most influential figures in the world of fashion. After becoming founder of the multi-platform creative brand ‘Off-White’ in 2013, Abloh made his mark on the industry through various collaborations, before becoming the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collections in 2018. His work embodied the integration of architecture and culture to foster greater equity and inclusion in fashion and lay the foundations for diverse individuals to succeed.
Luxury leader LVMH took to their Instagram to announce the sudden passing, stating “LVMH, Louis Vuitton and Off White are devastated to announce the passing of Virgil Abloh, on Sunday, November 28th, of cancer, which he had been battling privately for several years.” With chairman Bernard Arnault adding “We are all shocked after this terrible news. Virgil was not only a genius designer, a visionary, he was also a man with a beautiful soul and great wisdom. The LVMH family joins me in this moment of great sorrow, and we are all thinking of his loved ones after the passing of their husband, their father, their brother or their friend.”
Just 48 hours after his untimely death, Abloh’s Louis Vuitton Spring-Summer 2022 collection was showcased at Miami Marine Stadium. 84 looks, one creative mastermind. Everyone, from the likes of Kanye West to Ivanka Trump attended the post-humous collection show, with musicians Kid Cudi and Offset among the models who walked the runway. Guests were greeted with a 30-foot-tall statue of Virgil, joined by an LV stamped hot-air balloon hovering above him. For many, this felt like a reflection of transition, with the hot-air balloon ascending into the lit-up skies which read ‘Virgil was here.’ Every aspect of the event was symbolic, almost like a eulogy spoken by Virgil himself.
Too soon? you may ask. Not for Virgil. His hard work and dedication to the collection was being presented up until the last day of his life. And so, as the runway concluded, Virgil made his presence known, reminding the guests “Life is so short that you can’t even waste a day subscribing to what someone thinks you can do versus knowing what you can do.” While his physical presence wasn’t around to witness the presentation of his hard work, it was made clear that his creative and innovative presence will always be alive in the evolution of fashion.