Virgil Abloh

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Virgil Abloh
Virgil Abloh at Columbia GSAPP (cropped).png
Abloh lecturing at Columbia University in 2017
Born (1980-09-30) September 30, 1980 (age 38)
NationalityAmerican
Alma mater
Occupation
Years active2011–present
Title
Spouse(s)
Shannon Sundberg (m. 2009)
Children2

Virgil Abloh (/ˈæbl/; born September 30, 1980) is an American fashion designer, entrepreneur and DJ who has been the artistic director of Louis Vuitton's men's wear collection since March 2018. Apart from his work at Louis Vuitton, Abloh serves as the chief executive officer of the Milan-based label Off-White, a fashion house he founded in 2013. He entered the world of fashion with an internship at Fendi in 2009 alongside rapper Kanye West. The two then began an artistic collaboration that would launch Abloh's career into founding Off-White. Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2018.[1] Abloh was featured in conversation with his friend and frequent collaborator Takashi Murakami on the cover of the fall 2018 issue of Cultured magazine.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Virgil Abloh was born on September 30, 1980, in Rockford, Illinois, to Ghanaian immigrant parents.[3] His mother was a seamstress.[4] His dad was a manager in a paint company.[5] Abloh was raised in Rockford, where he attended Boylan Catholic High School, graduating in 1998.[3] He graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering.[3] He received his Master of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2006.[6]

Career[edit]

2009–2013: Rise to prominence[edit]

After graduating from university, he interned at Fendi in the same class as rapper Kanye West in 2009.[3] Placed in the company's Rome, Italy office, the two began a collaborative relationship.[3] A year later, West appointed Abloh the creative director of his creative agency, DONDA.[3] In 2011, West asked him to serve as the artistic director for the 2011 Jay-Z/Kanye West album Watch the Throne.[3] In 2012, Abloh launched his first company, Pyrex Vision, a small boutique of couture streetwear.[3] Abloh purchased deadstock clothing from Ralph Lauren for $40, screen-printed designs on them and sold them for prices upward of $550.[3] He closed the company down a year later as he did not intend it to be a commercial enterprise but an artistic experiment.[3]

2013–2017: Off-White and mainstream success[edit]

In a large part streetwear is seen as cheap. What my goal has been is to add an intellectual layer to it and make it credible

—Abloh on the inspiration behind founding high-end streetwear label, Off-White.[7]

Abloh founded his first fashion house and second business overall in 2013 with the high-end streetwear brand Off-White.[3] Based in Milan, Italy, the company was described by Abloh as "the gray area between black and white as the color off-white" to investors and fashion critics.[3] He launched the company's women's wear line in 2014 and showed the collections at the Paris Fashion Week.[3] His line was selected as a finalist for the LVMH Prize, an industry award, but lost to Marques'Almeida and Jacquemus.[3] Abloh launched his first concept store for Off-White in Tokyo, Japan, where he started the company's furniture arm, Grey Area.[3] In 2017, he was asked to design a new collection in conjunction with Nike entitled "The Ten" where he re-designed a variety of the company's best-selling shoes.[3] Virgil also partnered up with the Swedish furniture company IKEA to design furniture for apartments and houses.[8] The collection will be named Markerad which is a Swedish word meaning "clear-cut; crisp; pronounced" and is scheduled to release in 2019.[9] Abloh employs quotation marks stylistically in order to convey ironic detachment from society and social norms.[10] During the rise in neo-nationalism in 2017 Abloh worked with conceptual artist Jenny Holzer to create a line emphasizing the positive aspects of immigration, cultural integration, and globalization.[11] In December 2017, he worked with Holzer again to design t-shirts for Planned Parenthood in response to the Women's March on Washington.[12]

2018–present: Louis Vuitton[edit]

Abloh incorporated the famous LV logo in his debut menswear collection for the brand.

On March 25, 2018, Abloh was named artistic director of Louis Vuitton's menswear ready wear line, marking him the first person of African descent to lead the brand's menswear line, as well as one of the few black designers at the helm of a major French fashion house.[4] Upon his acceptance of the position, he stated, "It is an honor for me to accept this position. 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".[3] Abloh showed his first collection for Louis Vuitton at the 2018 Men's Fashion Week at the Palais-Royal gardens in Paris.[13][14][15][16] Rihanna was the first person to wear Abloh before the show.[17] Playboi Carti, Steve Lacy, A$AP Nast, Dev Hynes, and Kid Cudi walked for the fashion show.[18] Abloh has since been in high demand for his designs, creating an original outfit designed for Serena Williams to wear throughout the 2018 US Open, a collaboration with Nike.[19]

2018–present: Art[edit]

In 2018, Virgil collaborated with Japanese contemporary artist, Takashi Murakami, on a series of artworks that brought the fashion world to the art world but ultimately transcended both to create something more. [20] The artists discuss their careers and the collaboration at length in their interview for Cultured magazine's fall 2018 issue where they are featured as the cover stars. [21]

Personal life[edit]

Abloh met his wife, Shannon Sundberg, in high school. They married in 2009.[22][23] He maintains a house in Lincoln Park, Chicago, with his wife and their two children, Lowe and Grey.[23] He travels 350,000 miles a year for his work.[23] He is of the Ewe ethnicity of the Volta region in Ghana.[24]

Awards and honors[edit]

Abloh received his first major award in 2011 when his work designing the cover art for the 2011 Jay-Z/Kanye West album Watch the Throne was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Recording Package.[3] He received the Urban Luxe award at the 2017 British Fashion Awards.[4] Abloh was listed as one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world in 2018, one of two designers named that year.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Wolf, Cam (April 19, 2018). "Virgil Abloh Is One of Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World". GQ. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  2. ^ Roffino, Sara (September 2018). "Virgil Abloh and Takashi Murakami are Changing the Conversation One Collaboration at a Time". Cultured magazine. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Yotka, Steff (March 28, 2018). "A Brief History of Virgil Abloh's Meteoric Rise". Vogue. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Friedman, Vanessa; Paton, Elizabeth (March 26, 2018). "Louis Vuitton Names Virgil Abloh as Its New Men's Wear Designer". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  5. ^ "5 things you need to know about Virgil Abloh". TRACE (in French). 2018-03-30. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  6. ^ Rock, Michael (February 6, 2017). "Virgil Abloh - Columbia GSAPP". Columbia GSAPP. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  7. ^ Morency, Christopher (September 29, 2016). "The Unlikely Success of Virgil Abloh". The Business of Fashion. Retrieved April 23, 2018.
  8. ^ "Virgil Abloh teases a rug from Ikea and Off-White collaboration". Curbed. Retrieved April 8, 2018.
  9. ^ "Virgil Abloh Gives a Master Class on His IKEA Collaboration Design Process | Architectural Digest". Architectural Digest. Retrieved April 8, 2018.
  10. ^ Leach, Alec (August 30, 2017). "Why Does Virgil Abloh Put Everything in "QUOTES?"". Highsnobiety. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
  11. ^ Madsen, Susanne (June 16, 2017). "Virgil Abloh on getting political with Jenny Holzer". Dazed. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  12. ^ Mak, Hunter (December 1, 2017). "Virgil Abloh & Jenny Holzer Create T-Shirt for Planned Parenthood". HYPEBEAST. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  13. ^ "Louis Vuitton Appoints Virgil Abloh As Its New Menswear Designer". Harper's BAZAAR. March 26, 2018. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
  14. ^ Virgil Abloh Debuts First-Ever Louis Vuitton Men's Collection At Fashion Week in Paris Omari White, newsweek.com 6/21/18
  15. ^ V is for Virgil: Abloh makes debut for Louis Vuitton in Paris Scarlett Conlon, theguardian.com 21 June 2018
  16. ^ Virgil Abloh Writes New Chapter at Louis Vuitton Joelle Diderich, Women's Wear Daily, June 20, 2018
  17. ^ "Of Course Rihanna Is the First to Wear Virgil Abloh's Louis Vuitton". Vogue. Retrieved 2018-06-26.
  18. ^ Playboi Carti, Steve Lacy, and More Musicians Who Walked Virgil Abloh’s First Louis Vuitton Show Rachel Hahn, Vogue, June 21, 2018
  19. ^ "Nike, Virgil Abloh, & Serena Williams Are Teaming Up For The U.S. Open". Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  20. ^ "VIRGIL ABLOH AND TAKASHI MURAKAMI ARE CHANGING THE CONVERSATION ONE COLLABORATION AT A TIME". https://www.culturedmag.com. External link in |website= (help)
  21. ^ "VIRGIL ABLOH AND TAKASHI MURAKAMI ARE CHANGING THE CONVERSATION ONE COLLABORATION AT A TIME". https://www.culturedmag.com. External link in |website= (help)
  22. ^ https://www.insideweddings.com/weddings/purple-hued-timeless-wedding-in-chicago-illinois/299/
  23. ^ a b c Solway, Diane (April 20, 2017). "Virgil Abloh and His Army of Disruptors: How He Became the King of Social Media Superinfluencers". W Magazine. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  24. ^ GHANA’S VIRGIL ABLOH LEADING A REVOLUTION WITH OFF WHITE St. Hilary's Magazine, December 15, 2017