The Arts

Virgil Abloh, Forever Fashionable

The world mourns the brilliant designer and UW alumnus.

The new Luis Vuitton store in Miami

The debut of a new LVHM menswear store in Miami became a tribute to Abloh, whose Spring–Summer 2022 collection dominated the runway. AP Photo/Marta Lavandier

On November 28, 2021, the world lost one of its boldest and most innovative creative minds, and the UW–Madison alumni community lost a fellow member: Virgil Abloh ’03 died of cancer at age 41.

Virgil Abloh wearing a gray suit against a pink background

Abloh had a keen eye for the cutting edge unmatched by his contemporaries. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Abloh leaves behind the legacy of a Renaissance man who reimagined and revolutionized the spaces he entered with a keen eye for the cutting edge that was unmatched by his contemporaries. While he was best known for his work as the first Black artistic director of menswear at French fashion house Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) and creative director for rapper Kanye West, Abloh’s influence spanned industries from interior design to house music.

To say that Abloh’s work was well loved would be an understatement: in the hours that followed the news of his passing, he was mourned and memorialized online by a host of A-list musicians, models, athletes, actors, and creatives, including model Hailey Bieber (whose custom wedding dress Abloh designed) and youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman (who once wore an Abloh design inspired by his grandmother).

What was supposed to be the debut of a new LVHM menswear store in Miami (pictured above, including a sculpture garden imagined by Abloh) on November 30 became a tribute to the late designer, whose Spring–Summer 2022 collection dominated the runway. The show was accompanied by a video titled Virgil Was Here, which paid homage to a life and career cut short — though, for Abloh, the work was an ever-evolving endeavor that would never truly be done.

The show concluded with a recording of his voice: “Life is so short that you can’t waste even a day subscribing to what someone thinks you can do, versus knowing what you can do.”

Published in the Spring 2022 issue


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