American designer, DJ and stylist Virgil Abloh came to prominence as Kanye West 's creative director, but has since made waves in the fashion world with his luxury streetwear label, Off-White, and appointment as artistic director of menswear at Louis Vuitton in March 2018. "This opportunity to think through what the next chapter of design and luxury will mean at a brand that represents the pinnacle of luxury was always a goal in my wildest dreams," he said of his appointment.
Born in 1980 to Ghanaian parents, Abloh grew up in the outskirts of Chicago. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2002 and went on to study architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
After working for an architecture firm for two years, Abloh shifted his focus to fashion. In 2009, he founded RSVP Gallery, an art gallery and menswear boutique in Chicago. That same year, he joined Kanye West's creative agency Donda as creative director, overseeing projects like stage shows and concert merchandise.
In 2012, Abloh launched his first fashion brand, Pyrex Vision, which screen-printed logos onto Champion t-shirts and dead stock Ralph Lauren rugby shirts. Alongside this, he collaborated with Matthew Williams and Heron Preston as part of a collective called Been Trill. Pyrex shuttered in 2013. That same year, Abloh launched luxury men’s and women’s streetwear label Off-White. The Milan-based brand was picked up by stockists such as Barneys and Colette, and is worn by the likes of Jay-Z, ASAP Rocky, Rihanna and Beyoncé. In 2015, Off-White was an LVMH Prize finalist.
Abloh's first show for Louis Vuitton was held in the gardens of the Palais Royal in Paris in June, on a rainbow-coloured runway with friends in attendance that included rapper Kanye West and musician Kid Cudi. "The Palais Royal on Thursday was unlike any fashion event in recent memory, with its anticipatory outpouring of goodwill. For all its scale, it felt almost like a family affair," said BoF editor-at-large Tim Blanks in his review.
Alongside running his fashion brand and consulting, Abloh DJs under the alias Flat-White.