In Memory of Virgil Abloh: Five of His Best Collaborations
by: The Beat Asia
February 09, 2022
The late fashion designer Virgil Abloh, who passed away on Nov. 28, 2021, at 41 after a private battle with cancer, is remembered by many as a trailblazing visionary and creative maverick. A known polymath, the Illinois-born Abloh graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and then a master's degree in Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He founded his own label, Off-White, in 2013, and became the artistic director of menswear design at Louis Vuitton in 2018 – the first Black man to ever hold the role – breaking barriers and bending genres left and right with his free spirit takes on streetwear, art, and music.
In this article, we remember the creative dreamer by looking back on some of his best collaborations throughout his career.
Virgil Abloh x Ikea
In 2019, Abloh and Swedish furniture retail giant Ikea launched their MARKERAD limited edition collection, rethinking the function of quotidian objects like clocks and chairs into minimalist yet statement-making pieces.
"The ethos of the collection is to add an artful quality to anonymous objects," Abloh said then.
Some of the iconic designs under the collection included elevated everyday items like a green rug emblazoned with white letters that spelled "WET GRASS," the iconic Ikea receipt rug, and a minimalist rectangular bag titled "SCULPTURE."
Virgil Abloh x Takashi Murakami
Abloh partnered with Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami in 2018 for "TECHNICOLOR 2," an exhibition for the Gagosian London from June 23-July 28. This collaboration saw the artists' styles meld into "freewheeling, punkish mash-ups." It included, among others, new iterations of the "TIMES NATURE" (2018) paintings that played on concepts of production, reproduction, and linear time.
"We are driven by an innate ambition to make artworks that are shaped by societal observations – in a variety of media – which by their existence produce a new cultural impact," Abloh said of the collab.
Off-White x Nike
Abloh has always been a huge fan of Nike. As a teenager, he and his friends would sketch shoe ideas and send them to the shoe company. In 2017, Abloh and Nike finally paired up for a design project, resulting in 10 reconstructed Nike footwear icons called "The Ten" that were divided into two themes, "REVEALING" and "GHOSTING." The collection included, among others, reconstructed Air Jordan I, Nike Air Max 90, Nike Air Presto, and more.
"To me, they are on the same level as a sculpture of David or the Mona Lisa," Abloh said of the project. "You can debate it all you want, but they mean something. And that's what's important."
Off-White x Moncler
Back in 2016, Abloh's label Off-White worked together with luxury winterwear fashion brand Moncler for a capsule collection dubbed Moncler O. Inspired by Scandinavian fishermen, the line included classics like anoraks, raincoats, and heavy down vests. The pieces featured Off-White's signature diagonal stripes and Moncler's logo and, according to Vogue France, was such a huge hit that it was renewed for the following season.
Virgil Abloh x Nigo
Abloh's first standalone collaboration under Louis Vuitton was with Japanese streetwear pioneer Nigo, which launched at the end of June 2020. Called LV2 X Nigo, the collab featured ready-to-wear and leather goods, as well as accessories, bringing forth impeccable tailoring and denim bearing the iconic Monogram and Damier check patterns of the luxury fashion house.
Abloh, in a Vogue interview published March 9, 2020, considered Nigo as one of his first real mentors in fashion, who he met 15 years prior.
"It's a sense of detail, a Japanese precision," Abloh said of the most important thing he's learned from Nigo. "But also generosity. He's extremely heartfelt."
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