University of Wisconsin alumni Virgil Abloh continues to make ripples in the fashion and design world since graduating in 2003 with a degree in civil engineering. 

Abloh went on to become the first person of African descent to lead the Louis Vuitton menswear line after being named artistic director in 2018. The New York Times describes Abloh as “one of the few black designers at the helm of a major French fashion house.”

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It is an honor for me to accept this position. I find the heritage and creative integrity of the house are key inspirations and will look to reference them both while drawing parallels to modern times,” Abloh said in an interview with Vogue.

Abloh revealed his first collection with Louis Vuitton at the 2018 Men’s Fashion Week in Paris, with Rihanna being the first to wear his work before the show. Since then, Abloh has been in high demand for his designs.

In 2019, The Council of Fashion Designers of America announced Abloh’s newly appointed position to the board of directors. 

Abloh has consistently remained a significant, influential figure in the design industry, collaborating with well-known institutions such as Ikea, working to make furniture tailored to millennials. He has contributed to everything ranging from chairs, rugs and coffee tables while fusing various elements of styles—including his signature design of quotation marks around certain words usually found on his clothing. 

He even designed Hailey Bieber’s iconic, custom, Off-White wedding gown, making use of his signature design with quotation marks around the words “till death do us part.”

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A UW student and fan of Abloh’s work, Emma Millholland, describes her thoughts on Abloh’s success. 

“I know that he was a creative director for Louis Vuitton and now he designs at Off-White,” Millholland said. “He’s one of the most influential designers of our time. Not only are [his designs] cool but they gained a lot of social media popularity because they’re designed well and he’s in tune with trends while still staying true to his authenticity. He’s not designing to sell, he’s designing because of his own intent but it sells regardless.”

Abloh’s UW connection inspires Millholland to pay tribute to her status as a student here. 

“It’s really interesting that he went to school here, which shows how diverse our school is,” Millholland said. “He used engineering knowledge for design purposes which shows how the skills you learn here can be applied in all parts of life. Your degree here isn’t linear.”

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Abloh’s latest work introduces his Off-White collection with Louis Vuitton, presented at the Men’s Fall-Winter 2020 Fashion Show held at the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris— including three fashion collections and a furniture exhibition. This collection begins to lean further towards feminine fashion with blazers and shirts worn by all demographics, proving consistent with modern-day culture.

According to Vogue, “Iconic design from a different era but with my young perspective,” is how Abloh describes his 2020 collection.