Born to Ghanaian immigrant parents in Rockford, Illinois, Abloh learned sewing from his mother who worked as a seamstress. After studying civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and receiving his Masters in Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2006, Abloh, formally entered the fashion world in 2009 with an internship at Fendi, alongside Kanye West. After a string of projects, including launching Chicago's RSVP Gallery, Abloh founded his Off-White high-end streetwear label in Milan in 2013. In 2018, Abloh joined Louis Vuitton as the artistic director of the brand's ready-to-wear menswear line, becoming one of few Black designers to ever lead at a major French fashion house.
As Abloh and his work continued to gain notoriety, he collaborated with a wide range of artists and brands, from IKEA to architect Rem Koolhaas to SSENSE. In 2017, he worked with Jenny Holzer to design garments pushing back against rising sentiments of neo-nationalism and the restriction of reproductive rights. He also counted Takashi Murakami among his frequent collaborators, and worked with the artist to design exhibitions at multiple Gagosian locations in 2018.
Abloh passed way from a rare form of cancer in 2021, and was honored at Art Basel Miami through the spectacular Louis Vuitton show that he helped to plan. The traveling exhibition Figures of Speech, organized by the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, is entirely dedicated to Abloh's life of explosive creativity and cultural influence.
Auction Results Virgil Abloh