Who was Virgil Abloh and why is he an icon of urban design and music

The name of Virgil Abloh will be remembered as synonymous with stylistic avant-garde. Here we present part of his sonic adventures, he managed to expand the link between design, streetwear and African-American culture.

By David Luján Shedda | @davidlujansheda

Fashion, design and music today are inseparable. And Virgil Abloh knew this from the beginning of his career.

A resident of Chicago and the son of Ghanaian immigrants, Abloh became a professional civil engineer and architect. But his mother, a seamstress by trade, taught him to operate the sewing machine and he learned at an early age the trade that made him an icon.

And while Abloh is remembered today as a design genius, he also dabbled in music thanks in large part to his close relationship with the intrepid Kanye West, whom he met in 2002.

Virgil Abloh’s story

The young Abloh was a DJ and flourished in the Chicago skate scene. His vision of his art was undoubtedly influenced by the music of Common, A Tribe Called Quest and, above all, by DJ Gilles Peterson; in addition, of course, to the legacy of the French artist Marcel Duchamp.

With music, it started in the form of the Been Trill, a collective of DJs and designers who subverted the order of the principles of the Internet: they promoted clothes and merchandising in a space of collective participation in which Kanye West appeared under the alias of YWP or (Yeezy World Peace).

Virgil Abloh’s DJ alias was Flat White and under that name he toured Europe and the United States with his sets. He was, in fact, playing at Coachella .

His first solo venture in textile fashion was Pyrex Vision. There she customized Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger t-shirts that consolidated “streetwear” of his scene in Chicago.

Between 2009 and 2010 he was an intern for the Fendi brand when West was a creative collaborator. Around that time he was recruited by the creative agency Donda, a design company where he worked alongside the graphic designer joe perez .

His facet as a designer gave him recognition thanks to the fact that he founded the Off-White brand in 2013. In 2018 he became the artistic director of menswear at Louis Vuitton and there he cemented his name as a key figure in the world of contemporary fashion.

That year Abloh also produced an anticipated fall/winter line under his Off-White label that featured the rock group as a soundtrack. alternative Weezer and rapper Tyler, the Creator.

Radiating motivation in her first Louis Vuitton collection, during Paris Fashion Week, Abloh included Kid Cudi, Playboi Carti and Dev Hynes in the parade; the soundtrack of that catwalk was in charge of BADBADNOTGOOD interpreting, among other songs, a version of ghost town by Kanye West.

Ablo’s music

There is no uniformity in the musical styles that Abloh addressed, but his respect and friendship with Kanye West definitely marked his creative path.

On SoundCloud, under the pseudonym Paris, IL Abloh published some of his parade soundtracks. He also did it with his own name in the program ImaginaryRadio on London’s Worldwide FM radio station. It was a series of seven introspective episodes recreating charts of exquisite African-American music.

During Travis Scott’s tour of Birds Eye View in 2017, in New York, abloh made a fearless opening on a strange set: Elated crowds listened to deliberately intermingled songs that included Kanye West, Migos, Miles Davis, XXXTentacion, Lil Uzi Vert and Aerosmith.

Together with Drake, he organized a noisy and mythical party in 2018 entitled A Day Party With Drake and Virgil Abloh at The Brooklyn Mirage. Shortly after, Abloh published Orvngea three-song EP in collaboration with Boys Noize, a German producer specializing in techno music.

Abloh’s music career continued, and that same year he was a resident at the luxurious Xs Nightclub at the Wynn hotel in Las Vegas.

Of course, the creation of sound formats was one of his specialties. In the pandemic he collaborated with visual artist George Condo on the Watercolor Jazz Hours series, a beautiful and intimate mix of live music.

In the year 2020, a year before his sudden death, Abloh participated with the song SHOES in the house EP by Lupe Fiasco and Kaelin Ellis. In this piece she introduced dialogue over a smooth soul base that weaves through Lupe’s verses.

Together with experimental musician serpentwithfeet, in 2021, he released the single Delicate Limbs. In the video he takes up an ancestral metaphor of the singer through a tree. The music that Virgil produced in a delicate and meditative trip hop style takes center stage.

Recently, the renowned producer musical Cardo revealed that Virgil and he were working on a joint musical project, and that it was practically ready. The revealed title is OFF-THE-RIP and is believed to be Abloh’s definitive foray into hip hop as a music producer.

The legacy of Virgil Abloh

After his death Lil Durk and Gunna paid tribute to Abloh with the song What Happened To Virgil. And the Drake album, honestly nevermind , published in mid-2022, it included an explanatory letter that closed with an accurate: “Dedicated to our brother V”, in capital letters. This dedication could not be more moving.

The tributes and mentions are an extension of a musical legacy that included an extensive list of covers of albums or videos in which Virgil collaborated, such as My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West, watch the throne by Jay-Z and Kanye West, WZRD by Kid Kudi, Long.Live.ASAP by A$AP Rocky, Cruel Summer by GOODMusic, Based on a TRU Story by 2 Chainz, Yeezus by Kanye West, Luv Is Rage 2 by Lil UziVert Spaceman by octavian, My Name Is My Name by Pusha T, Dark Sky Paradise by Big Sean, Pray for Paris by Westside Gunn, Spectral Frequency EP of Special Request and Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon by PopSmoke.

Abloh always demonstrated versatility and sophistication. His work on music videos and covers always involved the streetwear as an artistic movement, an idea that he made his own and defended wherever he had the opportunity to do so.


Virgil Abloh, who was born in 1980 on September 30, died on November 28, 2021 from cardiac angiosarcoma, a type of cancer that took his life at the age of 41.

Abloh created a channel of Youtube where you can hear some of his sets as a DJ, which include electronic music, hip hop, funk and soul prominently.

For posterity there will be the record of his emotional hug with Kanye West who, at the end of his first show with Louis Vuitton, pounced on Abloh and both cried inconsolably, perhaps due to the symbolic victory they had at that moment on behalf of the communities African Americans.

His parents, wife, and two children survive in addition to the precept that Abloh wrote in a footer posted on Instagram in a photo of his peak moment with Louis Vuitton: “You can do it too.”


Told Virgil write “Brick” on my brick (Write “Brick” on my brick)

Write “Brick” on my brick

Dr BirdsGriselda

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Who was Virgil Abloh and why is he an icon of urban design and music

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