Sunday, July 3, 2022


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What is Virgil Abloh? No, 7 (2017) photograph by Juergen Teller in Virgil Abloh "Figures of Speech" @BrooklynMuseum

Look here, look there--something fresh, something said. Something high, something low--all created with vision, passion and inspiration. Virgil Abloh "Figures of Speech" has landed at the Brooklyn Museum, after originating in Chicago and making stops in Atlanta, Boston and Qatar. With context, "Powerful" describes the installation honoring the last 2 decades of Abloh's legacy and "Considerate" describes the man being honored. A proverbial Jack of all Trades, Virgil Abloh shattered all limitations of "designer" or "artist," instead identifying as "Maker." Keep reading for a look inside...    

Virgil Abloh Architectural model 

Sound and video complement tables of kicks, couture, sketches and sculpture. Three years in the making, "Figures of Speech" traces Abloh's exploration of the communicative power of design. His use of language and quotation marks turns his designs, and the people who engage with them, into literal figures of speech [source]." Though the exhibit opened after Abloh's passing, the team at his design studio Alaska Alaska, curator and writer Antwaun Sargent, museum management and others carried out his vision of simplicity and inclusiveness. New to the Brooklyn space is a large 'SOCIAL SCULPTURE' gathering space and a mindfully designed gift shop--titled 'Church and State' --with limited edition items designed specifically for this exhibit. 

[Back] Pyrex Vision c/o Virgil Abloh "A Team With No Sport" (2012), [Front] Virgil Abloh in collaboration with Nike "An Array of Air" (2019)

During the press preview, I walked through the tightly curated remnants of a visionary who promoted a sense of accessibility like none before. As the NY Times put it, "Mr. Abloh transformed not just what consumers wanted to wear, bridging hype beast culture and the luxury world, but what brands wanted in a designer--and the meaning of 'fashion' itself" [source]. Noticeably, Abloh was a collaborator (e.g. Nike, Braun, A$AP Rocky, Akashi Murakami and many more), a muse, an inspiration. Not often do you see the rise of a hero, unpacked in a way so easy to embrace--from childhood sketches to prototypes to runway shows to luxury product. In spirit, you can feel the power of the 17 year old boy to whom Abloh dedicates his work. Virgil Abloh changed the industry by becoming the most powerful Black executive at a luxury fashion brand--ironically--a decade after being photographed at Paris Fashion Week as a "tourist" in the fashion scene [source].

[Front] Jim Joe "The Reality" (2016) Woven Rug with a quote from then-deputy style director at Complex Media, Jian DeLeon

A native of Chicago and a trained architect, Virgil Abloh earned a Master of Architecture from IIT (Illinois Institute of Technology) in 2006. After completing his studies, Abloh interned at Fendi and met Kanye West. Their relationship blossomed into collaborations on album cover art and a professional partnership. Abloh launched his first company--Pyrex Vision-- as an artistic experiment in 2012 and shuttered it about a year later. Abloh's Off White label was founded in 2013. By 2018, Off White was the premier label in the world and that same year, Abloh was named artistic director of Louis Vuitton's Men's. Along with his successful rise, Virgil Abloh was committed to supporting young artists. In 2020 he launched a"Post Modern" Scholarship fund to open the doors of accessibility for the next generation of Black fashion industry leaders. Despite his busy schedule, Abloh continued to mentor and provide resources to young designers until his passing.

Virgil Abloh A Series of Events (2019 ceramics)

Virgil Abloh "Figures of Speech" at the Brooklyn Museum will run until January 29, 2023. Programming and workshops aimed at inviting the outside in will commence in SOCIAL SCULPTURE as the space is intentionally “designed to counter historical lack of space afforded to Black artists and Black people in cultural institutions." To the entrepreneurial, inquisitive and empathetic fashion lover-- join the journey, embrace the legacy and be inspired by a true jack of all trades who seemingly mastered it all.

Virgil Abloh in collaboration with Pioneer DJ (2018)

Virgil Abloh / Sam Meersman Excerpt from S&V Steel II Design Project (2003)

Virgil Abloh

Virgil Abloh Pastelle Museum (2007-9)

"Social Sculpture" collaboration by Virgil Abloh and ALASKA ALASKA

Installation view

[L] Off-White c/o Virgil Abloh collaboration with Jacob & co Sneaker Prototype (2020) | [R] Virgil Abloh + Mahfouz Sultan book (2020-21); both unreleased

Ari Marcopoulos T-shirt for Supreme c/o Virgil Abloh (2019)

Virgil Abloh Gradient Chairs (2019)

Installation view

Installation view

[Front] Louis Vuitton c/o Virgil Abloh "Monogram" Nylon Kite (SS 2019) | [Back] "Options" (2019) 
Off White c/o Virgil Abloh "Testing Belt" for ASAP Rocky (2018)

Banker Boxes

[L] Louis Vuitton c/o Virgil Abloh From Look 58 (20`9-2020) | [R] From Look 54 (FW 2020)

Louis Vuitton c/o Virgil Abloh from Look 54 (FW 2020 - Heaven on Earth)

Louis Vuitton c/o Virgil Abloh + Off White c/o Virgil Abloh videos

A look into the exhibit store, entitled "Church and state"

Merchandise designed for this collaboration, for sale

Opening Hall of exhibit

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