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Virgil and Shannon Abloh
Photography Philip Andelman

Shannon Abloh has revealed a ‘50-year plan’ to honour Virgil’s legacy

The late-designer’s wife is stepping into the spotlight as the executor of his memory

In the 366 days since Virgil Abloh has passed, numerous attempts have been made to determine the designer’s impact – each one grappling with the elasticity of his practice. While many of those collections, exhibitions, and collaborations have gone ahead with the blessing of Abloh’s wife Shannon, she’s always chosen to remain a peripheral figure, allowing other people to expound on her husband’s memory. That is, until now. 

Today, in an interview with The New York Times, Shannon outlined her own plans to shape the legacy of Virgil Abloh. It’s like this train that’s going 500 miles per hour, and I just thought: I have to stay on this train, because if I don’t, I don’t know where it’s going to go. That’s my place and my position,” she said of the various commemorative projects that have mushroomed over the past 12 months. “I think that it’s important that my kids are able to see in 20 years what their dad was able to do and that Mom really stepped up,” she continued. That “through everything, through all the grief, [I] was able to pull it together and move forward… I knew every inch of him. I knew every inch of his brain.”

A private person who’s only just beginning to step into the spotlight, earlier this year, Shannon founded Virgil Abloh Securities: an umbrella company that binds together all of her husband’s creative ventures, among them London creative studio Alaska Alaska and a joint project with Nike, called Architecture. Then there‘s the four-day music festival at Art Basil, which launches this week and plays host to various discussions, workshops, and exhibitions. There, VA securities will unveil the Nike Air Terra Forma, which is just one of hundreds of unreleased styles yet to surface a project that will last 50 years according to Shannon’s business partner Howard Feller. 

While trawling through 20 storage units around the world and compiling a proper archive, perhaps the project Shannon feels most connected to is the creation of the Virgil Abloh Foundation. She said Virgil never just wanted to be a role model for “kids that didn’t know they could be an architect, or the designer of Vuitton instead of a basketball player or a football player,” but also to help make that happen. So, next spring, she will host a summit with some of the designer’s closest collaborators, where they will figure out how to provide more creative opportunities to students from minority groups. As president, she will be responsible for mentoring hundreds, if not thousands, of 12-17 year-olds, picking up where Virgil left off, and flinging the doors open for a new generation. 

“I know what he would want,” she said. “And I feel just as strongly as he did about it.”