On 28 November 2021, framed fashion designer, men's artistic director of Louis Vuitton, founder of Off-White and DJ Virgil Abloh, sadly passed away. With the news of his death shocking fashion fans as well many celebrities whom he was close with across the world, all sharing their condolences on social media, we are truly devastated to hear that such a historical figure who changed the fashion industry has left us. Whilst we remember Virgil Abloh's impact on us all, it's worth noting his committed relationship to the music industry as well as with long-time close friend Kanye West.
Virgil Abloh first entered the world of international fashion by interning at Fendi in 2009 alongside rapper Kanye West. Sometime later, Abloh and West's artistic partner Don C had launched a retail store, the RSVP Gallery situated in Chicago which became known for selling an assortment of fashion which was also a reflection of Abloh's personal style.
From building his own brand name Pyrex Vision and later transitioning into Off-White in 2013, the brand being well known for its quotation marks, block capital letters and barricade tape, Abloh was then caught by the eye of Louis Vuitton CEO Michael Burke, who he appointed to be the artistic director of menswear for the brand. By making history by becoming the first African-American to be the artistic director of the French luxury fashion house in 2018, Kanye West then made Abloh the creative director of his own creative agency DONDA.
But Virgil did not just have an eye for fashion. He also expanded his creative techniques into graphic design for a variety of musicians and their album covers which are still talked about to this day.
Take a look at some of the most famous and talked about album covers from the late visionary, Virgil Abloh.
Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Adorned with artwork designed by artist George Condo, Abloh took charge of the art direction with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Released in 2010, this album is said to be West's magnum opus. Featuring a bold red border with a few different variations such as above, the blurred version, the ballerina and the sword through the severed king Kanye head. As Virgil also worked as creative director for DONDA at the time, this cover is one of the most well-known images within hip-hop.
Kanye West, Jay Z - Watch The Throne
Another staple in hip-hop history comes from the unforgettable collaboration of two heavyweights - Kanye West and Jay-Z on their album Watch The Throne. With another art direction movement from Abloh, the project was created with gaudiness, opulence and braggadocio in mind, as noted in their lyrical content. Designed by Riccardo Tisci, who was Givenchy's creative director at the time, he had the cover printed on gold mylar with this characteristic style.
A$AP Rocky - LONG.LIVE.A$AP
Whilst Abloh was credited as a creative director for A$AP Rocky's debut album, the actual cover art itself was designed by DONDA member Joe Perez. Abloh took the reigns in terms of creating the idea for the "Fashion Killa" video and also developed the set design for Rocky's shows that we're leading up to the albums release. "Fashion Killa" was also Virgil's first music video that he worked on.
Kanye West - Yeezus
West's most controversial album from 2013 and sitting alongside the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy cover has Yeezus one of those album covers that we will always remember. With the idea coming to Virgil after visiting a magazine shop in New York City, he created a collage with tape and paper cut-outs before leading to the main design of a clear CD case with red tape on the side. He described the cover as an "open casket" which was stated to mark the death of the physical CD.
Westside Gunn - Pray For Paris
Coming more recently in 2020, Pray For Paris features a painting of David and Goliath with David holding his head, painted by Baroque artist Caravaggio. The painting of David is also craftily adorned with thick dazzling chains. With Westside Gunn wanting the cover to represent Paris in a "grimy" way but he also mentioned how he was a fan of Pyrex Vision from earlier years. With a few ideas tossed around such as Gunn in an old picture wearing the Pyrex 23 but with chains on, Gunn chose this design as it "looked like something you would see in Paris."
Kid Cudi - WZRD
Long term friend Kid Cudi decided to make Virgil the designer for his album cover back in 2012 and mentioned that he liked how Virgil was always ahead of the curve whether he was working with Kanye or on his own. With WZRD featuring a cloudy sky within yellow and red outlined text on a black background, Cudi mentioned that he got Virgil to work on the cover before anyone really knew who he was but just knew he was a "dope designer".
Lil Uzi Vert - Luv Is Rage 2
The debut studio album from Lil Uzi Vert saw a very memorable cover from Virgil as it also featured the Off-White tape stuck across the front. In a lot of ways, it perfectly portrays Lil Uzi Vert from the cute polar bear on his back to the gothic-type scribblings in the background that you might see on the back of a textbook. It was supposed to look handmade and crafty as Virgil mentioned that one pillar of his design aesthetic was showing a generation of kids that they can do it too. He also collaborated further with Lil Uzi Vert and directed his second music video which was "XO Tour Llif3".