The best glasses designed by Virgil Abloh
On Sunday, November 28, the world was shocked to learn that Virgil Abloh, founder of the Off-White fashion brand and artistic director of Louis Vuitton homme, had died, after a two-year struggle with cancer. Widely respected in the worlds of fashion, design and art in general, he rose rapidly to prominence in just a decade with an approach that has changed the luxury industry forever. Known as a multi-hyphenate architect, designer, creative consultant, DJ and most notably a fashion designer, he leaves an indelible imprint in pop culture thanks to strong, sharp, collections that often carried an activist message and were always memorable. Amongst the vast body of work he leaves behind, is eyewear, an essential accessory that the designer made his own. We take a look back at his most iconic models
Virgil Abloh entered the rarified world of fashion in 2009, as an intern at Fendi alongside his friend, rapper Kanye West, who was on a mission to learn as much about high fashion as possible. Three years later, he launched his first brand: Pyrex Vision, which he soon left in favor of Off-White, a label that has since become a cult favorite, propelling him to the top of the list of fashion’s most desirable designers. Brands rushed to collaborate with him and his creative footprint was soon found on products by household names like Evian, Braun, Nike, Levi’s and Ikea. Making forays into the most unexpected of spaces, the designer signed a total of 26 collaborations, including a line of unisex sunglasses with Sunglass Hut that featured three minimalist, retro models including pastel pink frames with orange lenses, all branded with the famous white arrows of the iconic Off-White logo.
Arguably the world’s first true luxury streetwear label, Off-White products have flown off the shelves since it started. It’s groundbreaking in many ways, for its typography, the stripes, workwear spirit, powerful colors, logo-ed merch, but also the holes. They are everywhere; in jeans, jackets, hats, statement bags and also eyewear. For his first collection of sunglasses, unveiled in May 2021, the designer remained true to his signatures with a series of frames like the rectangular Cady model, that referenced all the codes of the brand. Virgil Abloh defined the new line as “Creativity, Perseverance, Confidence”. Words that now resonate in a special way since the announcement of his death.
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A million ideas
In 2018, Virgil Abloh was appointed head of artistic direction for Louis Vuitton menswear. As the first Black man to hold the position, the news brought hope for the future, but even though the designer embodied the new wave, he chose to pay tribute to all those who came before and contributed to the luxury house’s reputation. A few hours before his first show, the artist unveiled a frame that would become ubiquitous: the 1.1 Millionaires sunglasses. The flaming red frames, which have since been released in different colors, were accented with gold metal hardware and stamped with the house Monogram print. Inspired by glasses worn by Al Capone, head of the mafia in Virgil Abloh’s native Chicago, the frames also pay tribute to former Louis Vuitton Creative Director Marc Jacobs, the rapper Pharrell Williams and the designer Nigo. All three had collaborated on the creation of a similar glasses model in 2004.
Frames are available here
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September 13, 2021, the world was watching the celebrities climbing the steps of the famous Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, for the Met Gala. This year, the theme was In America: A Fashion Lexicon, and the event saw the upper echelons of both fashion and art making the theme their own. Amongst them was Virgil Abloh, dressed in almost immaculate white, in an outfit referencing Bugs Bunny, the famous Looney Tunes rabbit. His look featured a pair of Nike sneakers, a jacket/skirt combo scrawled with the word ‘Modernism’ and a fur hat with rabbit ears, topped off with ultra oversized marbled cat-eye sunglasses. The frames, by Louis Vuitton, had never been seen before but are now iconic, as the public appearance would be one of his last. On Tuesday, November 30, the LVMH group and Abloh’s team paid tribute to him, with one last fashion show, aptly titled « Virgil Was Here ».
Written by Kate Matthams