• Creator Virgil Abloh died of cancer on Sunday at the age of 41.

  • Founder of Off White, he was also director of Louis Vuitton men's collections since 2013.

  • The disappearance of the American designer has changed the world of fashion as much as that of music.

From the announcement of the death of Virgil Abloh on Sunday at the age of 41, tributes have multiplied around the world. “The world has lost a fashion superstar. An innovator. A creator worthy of the history books, ”said Donatella Versace. "You will remain forever in our hearts and in the history of fashion thanks to your talent, your vision and your kindness", for his part wrote Olivier Rousteing on Instagram. The houses of Dior, Givenchy and even Gucci have also paid tribute to the memory of the director of Louis Vuitton's men's collections. Without forgetting figures of the sector like Victoria Beckham, Gigi Hadid or Cara Delevingne.

But beyond fashion, where Virgil Abloh had established himself as one of the most talented designers of the last decade, his tragic disappearance also upset many personalities in music: Kanye West, Drake, Cardi B, The Weeknd, Offset, Dua Lipa… In the space of just a few years, the designer has been able to unite around him artists from all walks of life and has left his mark on a whole generation.

"An exceptional man for his humanity (...) and his desire to break down barriers"

A true “emperor of cool”, Virgil Abloh shook fashion from the start of the 2010s with the creation of Off White in 2013, a luxury streetwear brand whose logo has become a veritable emblem for millennials. His inspirations? Skateboarding, hip-hop culture or even the Chicago Bulls, as he explained in 2016 to

L'Express

. Off White gave him access to Paris Fashion Week in 2015, the same year he was among the finalists for the LVMH Prize. He was only 35 at the time. And three years later, the group appointed him artistic director of Louis Vuitton's men's collections.

A notable consecration of the luxury sector for his creative genius, but also a "political victory", underlined at the time Loïc Prigent with

20 Minutes

. With Olivier Rousteing at Balmain, he was one of the first black stylists to take the head of such a prestigious fashion house. Sunday, the president of LVMH Bernard Arnault greeted the memory of this "designer of genius, a visionary, he was also a beautiful soul and a man of great wisdom".

Committed designer, Virgil Abloh questioned the lack of diversity within his shows. Like the presentation of the Louis Vuitton collection during the virtual Paris Fashion week last January. Showing artists such as the poet Saul Williams or the rapper Yasiin Bey, he wondered about stereotypes and racism. “Fashion is a tool for shaping these identities […]. Unconsciously, we trust a figure in a suit and we are suspicious when we see the outline of a hoodie, ”read the notes accompanying the collection. This Monday, the Federation of Haute Couture and Fashion paid "tribute to this creator of immense talent", "an exceptional man for his humanity, his openness to others,his generosity of heart and his desire to break down barriers ”.

"A creative force that shared the passion to challenge the status quo"

Far from confining himself to the world of luxury alone, Virgil Abloh has also distinguished himself through his numerous collaborations.

These include Moncler, Evian and Ikea in 2018, for which he created a range of rugs.

“I was very happy to collaborate with Ikea.

This allows me to extend my design principles to a range of products that Mr. and Mrs. Anyone can make their own.

This responds to my philosophy of total design, ”he explained to

20 Minutes

.

A know-how also put to good use for Nike, with whom the designer has worked on several occasions, notably revisiting famous sneakers like the Air Force 1. “Since 2016, Virgil was a beloved member of the Nike family, Jordan and Converse. He was a creative force who shared a passion to challenge the status quo, bring forward a new vision, while inspiring multiple generations, ”the brand wrote on Instagram.

To

M Le magazine du Monde

in 2018, Virgil Abloh explained his taste for collaboration: “It is the basis of any artistic and human enterprise!

It is a fantastic tool, which generates surprise and defines better than any communication the nature of the two brands or people who come together.

And, from a practical point of view, it allows me to constantly renew my product range ”.

Friend and advisor of Kanye West

A big fan of hip-hop and a DJ himself, Virgil Abloh has forged many links with the American rap scene. In the early 2000s, long before his fame as a stylist, he was an artistic consultant for his friend Kanye West, advising him on the scenography of his concerts. He also created some of his album covers, like those of

Yeezus

or

Watch The Throne

with Jay Z. As reported by the Canal + music media

Jack

, the designer also worked on the album covers of Asap Rocky, Lil Uzi Vert or for the posthumous Pop Smoke album in 2020 which is far from being unanimous when it was released ...

Following the announcement of his death on Sunday, many musical artists paid tribute to him.

Kanye West dedicated his "Sunday Service" to him and took over with his choir

Easy on Me

from Adele.

Pharell Williams praised his “creative genius”, kindness, spirituality and supported his wife and two children.

For his part, Drake promised him "to reach the sky 1000 more times for [him]", adding "I love you forever my brother, thank you for everything.

"

Style

Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton: "It's a political victory," says Loïc Prigent

Style

Understanding Virgil Abloh (and his collaboration with Ikea) in four steps

  • Tribute

  • Louis Vuitton

  • Rap

  • Style

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