The late designer’s widow, Shannon Abloh, talked to the New York Times about grieving her husband and creating a “50-year plan” to influence his legacy.
The late designer Virgil Abloh’s wife, Shannon, said in an interview with the New York Times on Tuesday, one day after the anniversary of his passing from a rare disease at age 41, “Something you have to realise is, there wasn’t a plan.” Virgil was, as was his habit, working on a variety of projects at the time of his death. He was designing collections as the creative director of both Louis Vuitton menswear and his own company, Off-White; he was organising an ambitious exhibition for the Brooklyn Museum; and he was in constant contact with a vast number of other creatives, both well-known and less well-known, to learn what they were working on and how he could assist. His widow is striving to archive everything while she is grieving.
Shannon told Vanessa Friedman of the Times, “Even though we knew the difficulty of what he was facing, it went a lot faster than we anticipated it was going to.” Therefore, we never had the conversation about what legacy I want us to leave behind. But after spending so much time with him, I was familiar with every inch of him. His entire intellect was familiar to me.
Because Virgil’s constant strategy was to work in the present, many of his unfinished projects are still to be completed. In order to organise the designer’s numerous creative projects, including his London-based design studio Alaska Alaska and a joint venture with Nike called Architecture, for safekeeping, Shannon established Virgil Abloh Securities in May. The following spring, as president of the Virgil Abloh Foundation, she will host “an inaugural summit of his closest collaborators, who will brainstorm ways to increase creative opportunities for the next gene.” (Virgil announced in July 2020, just before he passed away, the establishment of a $1 million Virgil AblohTM “Post-Modern” Scholarship Fund for the benefit of Black fashion students.) We are on the 50-year plan, as Howard Feller, Virgil’s longtime business advisor who now collaborates with Shannon, stated to the Times.
John Hoke, Nike’s chief creative officer, stated in another section of the interview that there are presently at least a year’s worth of Off-White x Nike goods in the works, which Architecture is currently analysing. Later in December, an accompanying clothing line and the Off-WhiteTM x Nike Terra Forma, a rugged-soled high-top emblazoned with the phrase “Tread Lightly,” will go on sale. It is the first Nike shoe that Virgil developed from scratch.
Many individuals approached me after his death and said, “Virgil was my best friend.” Shannon echoed a sentiment that many in Virgil’s circle articulated in the days and months following his passing: of friendship and mentoring that survived through WhatsApp conversations and Instagram DMs. “His best buddy in the fashion industry, his best friend in the music world,” Shannon added. “Many of his associates, or even those who may not have been that close to him, feel that they can contribute to his legacy in one way or another.” She continued, “I believe that it’s vital that my kids are able to see in 20 years what their dad was able to achieve and that Mom really stood up,” in reference to her personal contribution to that job.