Virgil Abloh’s “figures of style” are preparing to conquer Brooklyn
“Fashion,” designer Virgil Abloh once said, “is just one area among many to which design can be applied.” It’s no surprise, then, that the life and work of the late Louis Vuitton creative director and founder of Off-White is celebrated at the Brooklyn Museum. The innovative designer who blended luxury fashion and streetwear died after a private battle with cancer last November at the age of 41.
Opening Friday, and on display until the end of January 2023, Virgil Abloh: “Figures of speech” includes collaborations with a multimedia artist Takashi Murakamiarchitect Rem Koolhaasand musician Kanye West, as well as works by Off-White and Louis Vuitton. The exhibit opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in 2019, and Abloh had “a helping hand” in its initial layout. The move to Brooklyn was originally planned for 2020 before the COVID pandemic disrupted things. The current exhibition features “unpublished objects from the artist’s archives, as well as a “social sculpture”, which is inspired by Abloh’s experience in architecture”, in the words of the museum.
They continue that “the installation provides a space for gathering and performance, and is designed to counter the historical lack of space given to black artists and black people in cultural institutions”, and add that “the use of language and quotation marks by Abloh transforms his creations, and the people who engage with them, into literal figures of style. The artist uses the dark gaze to dismantle the traditionally white structures at work in fashion, design, architecture and art, reconstructing new works through the prism of black cultural experience.
TIME the magazine remarked that “the exhibit defies convention, skipping the standard wall hangings in favor of displaying colorful sneakers”, and Artsy’s cover highlighted “an all-white, winged garment, which. .. captures the public’s eye with her skeletal lace wings, leather harness and large scale, she does precisely what haute couture should do: submerge the body and turn it into a sculptural work of art.
In an interview with The Cut, curator Antwaun Sargent said he especially wanted to highlight Abloh’s interest not only in fashion, but in everything from architecture to music. “What I wanted to do with the exhibition was to show its fluidity. I wanted to show that he was someone who literally thought beyond borders and applied the different learnings he had learned from architecture, design, art and fashion and put them into everything what he was doing.
The museum’s pop-up shop, which will feature exclusive merchandise, is also exciting to many. (One can subscribe to push alerts.)