The famous fashion designer Virgil Abloh has passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer, aged just 41.
“For over two years, Virgil valiantly battled a rare, aggressive form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma,” his official Instagram account confirmed in a heartfelt statement. “He chose to endure his battle privately since his diagnosis in 2019, undergoing numerous challenging treatments, all while helming several significant institutions that span fashion, art, and culture.”
The statement continued with a powerful thought. “He (Abloh) often said, ‘Everything I do is for the 17-year-old version of myself,’ believing deeply in the power of art to inspire future generations.” Tributes from some of the biggest names in fashion and art have started pouring in for the late designer.
Abloh was one of the defining figures of modern fashion, collaborating with the likes of Nike, IKEA, and Mercedes-Benz. He founded his own label, Off-White, in 2013, and was later appointed head of menswear design at Louis Vuitton in 2018 (that made him the first black designer at Vuitton).
But Abloh was a true Renaissance Man: he was also highly visible in rap and hip hop, working closely with stars such as Kanye West and Lil Uzi Vert. He leaves behind a legacy of stunning album covers, artworks that will live as long in the memory as the music itself.
Take a look below at 4 of his finest album cover designs, from imposing black and white imagery to simple but enduring minimalism.
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My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Abloh was credited as the Art Director for Kanye’s classic 2010 album. He picked the artist George Condo to create several cover options for Ye. One cover was infamously banned by Walmart and was substituted with the ballerina painting that’s synonymous with the album today.
“Virgil makes things happen, intrinsically knowing that his talent is to move into an electric field and create a transcendent art experience for our people,” Condo said about Abloh.
Watch The Throne
Perhaps Abloh’s most iconic album cover. The gold foil artwork really captured the majesty and pomposity of Kanye and Jay-Z’s collaborative project; both were kings of their art and they knew it. Abloh picked Riccardo Tisco, the former Creative Director of Givenchy, to handle the design.
It turned out pretty well: Abloh ended up receiving his first Grammy nomination for Best Recording Package (he lost out to Caroline Robert’s work for Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs).
ASAP Rocky’s debut album cover is well-remembered, featuring the rapper with a U.S. flag draped over him. Abloh was the Creative Director for the album and was fully involved in the whole project. He came up with the idea for the “Fashion Killa’ video; he made the set designs for some of the early album release shows.
All great designers know that sometimes simplicity is best. That’s what works so much about the iconic Yeezus album cover. The idiosyncratic minimalist artwork was born after Abloh visited a magazine shop in New York City, and thought about making something that looked like a handmade collage with tape and paper cutouts.
That soon led to the clear CD case with a bit of red tape on its right hand side. As streaming and vinyl took over music, it felt like a message, a symbol, of a different era.