virgil abloh
Getty Images / Bertrand Rindoff Petroff

Virgil Abloh‘s “Figures of Speech” exhibition is scheduled to take over the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA) in just a matter of weeks. Ahead of the much-anticipated debut, the 38-year-old designer recently got together with The New York Times to discuss the show, as well as his transition from fashion to the world of art.

Abloh has no doubt come a long way since his days as Kanye West’s creative director. Fast forward over a decade and he is now the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear, while simultaneously running OFF-WHITE, the world’s second hottest fashion brand (during the fourth quarter of 2018) behind Gucci, according to the Lyst Index. A trained architect, graphic designer, and artisan, Virgil still finds himself on the outside of the art community looking in. His new exhibition at the MCA could either usher in his welcoming or further segregate his work.

Abloh admits that his design strategy largely consists of “adjusting the world to leave my signature.” The designer hopes to put his mark on the art industry, as he insists museums are “the vault to record what’s happened and to represent it for a lifetime.”

“Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech” could be considered a time capsule of Abloh’s work. The installation includes everything from jewelry and dresses to turntables, luggage, chairs, a skateboarding ramp, and a recreation of Kanye West’s 2013 Yeezus album cover which he designed. “I need this to jell together the kid that knows every Tumblr post that I ever made to someone who doesn’t even know of OFF-WHITE but just knows my name keeps popping up,” Virgil commented.

Abloh is well aware that his customer base largely consists of hypebeasts. He looks at this as a mere opportunity, however, to bring kids into the world of art. Conversely, the MCA should appreciate that an exhibition by someone of Virgil’s stature will not only transfer new eyes to the museum, but also award the institution a status bump in the streetwear and fashion sectors.

“Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech” opens at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago on June 10. For more on Abloh and his transition from streetwear and high fashion to art, visit The New York Times.

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