Ever since the unexpected death in November of Virgil Abloh, the pioneering multifaceted Black designer whose work spanned Louis Vuitton, Nike and Evian, there have been questions about what happens next — to all the projects he had planned, to his legacy, to his dreams of the future.
Now there is an answer. His wife, Shannon, will assume the mantle — not at Louis Vuitton, where Mr. Abloh was artistic director of men’s wear, or even necessarily at Off-White, which he founded but which is now owned by LVMH, but at Virgil Abloh Securities , a company started by Mr. Abloh as his “creative corporation” that is now dedicated to “spreading his ethos and essence globally.”
What exactly that means is not entirely clear, though the company’s name, a very Ablohian — and eerily prescient — play on words, suggests the institutional ethos. And, perhaps, the increasing pressure to lay claim to an intellectual and creative inheritance in which many people may feel they have a stake.
According to a statement on Tuesday, Virgil Abloh Securities will “work in the disciplines and spheres of art, architecture, engineering, creative direction, artistic direction, industrial design, fashion design, music, film, writing and philanthropy.”
In the spirit of Mr. Abloh, who was an enthusiastic and profligate collaborator, the announcement also invites people to “reach out with any opportunities that would be of interest.” It also states that a philanthropic foundation will be introduced later in the year. (Mr. Abloh created the “Post-Modern” Scholarship Fund in 2020, dedicated to helping Black students enter the fashion world.)
Remembering Virgil Abloh (1980-2021)
The barrier-breaking Black designer whose rise in the luxury industry changed what was possible in fashion, died on Nov. 28, 2021. He was 41.
Ms. Abloh will be both chief executive and managing director of Virgil Abloh Securities, which will also be staffed by Mr. Abloh’s longstanding creative team.
Mr. Abloh first met Shannon Sundberg in high school, and the two married in 2009 after 10 years of dating. She was his partner throughout his career, yet she played an almost entirely behind-the-scenes role in his work until now. While he often seemed like an omnipresent cultural figure, appearing at his own fashion shows, art exhibitions and lectures as well as moonlighting as a DJ and flying around the world (he proposed to his wife at an airport), Ms. Abloh remained largely at their home outside of Chicago, working at Yahoo and Monster and raising their two children. They maintained a fairly strict demarcation between their public and private lives.
Though the outside world may not have realized it, Ms. Abloh was deeply involved in her husband’s work, to the extent that she helped orchestrate the final memorial Off-White show in February, which completed his plan to add couture to the brand. She is also involved in the planning of the “Virgil Abloh: ‘Figures of Speech’” exhibition, curated by Antwaun Sargent, that will open at the Brooklyn Museum in July.
Though like her late husband Ms. Abloh had no formal fashion training, she has been the repository for both his long-term vision for his own work and the influence he hoped to exert. Last month she appeared at the Fashion Scholarship Fund’s annual gala and award night. It was her first time stepping out to represent her husband’s legacy and a foreshadowing of what was to come.
Ms. Abloh said at the gala that her husband “believed his real work was using his position to ensure that many more Black designers, creatives and executives could have access to the opportunities he had in the fashion industry.”
“His dream,” she added, “is to establish an institution that would help to make fashion a more equal, more inclusive place.”
Virgil Abloh Securities is presumably the next stage in trying to make that a reality.