The recent announcement of Virgil Abloh joining Louis Vuitton as Men’s Artistic Director broke the internet for many reasons. One of those being that Abloh is the first ever African-American to be the head of design at a house owned by LVMH. And secondly, he is one of very few people of colour to be named the head of a French fashion house, aside from Olivier Rousteing of Balmain as well as Humberto Leon and Carol Lim of Kenzo.
Virgil has a background in engineering and architecture. It was only two years after working in an architecture firm that he turned to fashion.
Founding RSVP Gallery was his first venture into the world of fashion in 2009. RSVP Gallery is an art gallery and boutique for menswear clothing which can be found in Chicago, Abloh’s home town.
In 2009, Virgil was also Creative Director for Kanye West’s creative agency ‘Donda’ which is a group that mostly works in secret. There is not a lot known about the inner workings of Donda, but what we do know is that Virgil Abloh is near the top of the hierarchy of the creatives recruited by Yeezy. Donda’s projects include designing live shows, tour merchandise and album artwork to name a few.
Pyrex Vision was the name of Virgil’s first fashion brand, which was launched in 2012. This venture was short-lived and only one collection was ever released. The collection consisted of dead-stock champion t-shirts and Ralph Lauren gear that was reworked and had collegiate lettering plastered onto it, all of which was sold at luxury item pricing.
The Pyrex Vision brand came to an end in 2013, and in that same year Abloh brought his greatest fashion enterprise (so far) to life with OFF-WHITE.
Off-white is the holy grail brand for streetwear apparel and has been a profound influence on not only the fashion industry, but on the society of today. This brand is unlike many other fashion houses as it has a millennial fan-base and it has come to be through the power of media circulation.
The phenomenon that is Virgil Abloh owes a lot to his days interning at Fendi, as Chairman and CEO of Louis Vuitton, Michael Burke stated – “Having followed with great interest Virgil’s ascent since he worked with me at Fendi in 2006, I am thrilled to see how his innate creativity and disruptive approach have made him so relevant, not just in the world of fashion but in popular culture today.”
In Abloh’s release statement for his joining Louis Vuitton, he states “I find the heritage and creative integrity of the House are key inspirations and will look to reference them both while drawing parallels to modern times”. From this it is clear to see that Virgil will be taking a more modernised approach to the traditional values of the brand, similarly to the way in which Kim Jones did so before him. Jones brought the illustrious Supreme collaboration to Louis Vuitton and that marked a huge turning point in the fashion House’s custom.
Abloh’s Louis Vuitton menswear runway show will debut this coming June, and its safe to say that everyone will be keeping their eyes peeled for that one.
Shannon Doherty – Fashion Editor