Late fashion mogul Virgil Abloh co-authored a book that's set to be published posthumously

'Work In Progress' explores his process which he says was about 'carving out more space' for Black creatives.
June 23, 2022 12:00 a.m. EST
 Virgil Abloh Virgil Abloh

It looks like Virgil Abloh has one more masterpiece to offer the world. Reports are emerging that the late designer will posthumously publish a book he was in the middle of co-writing at the time of his passing. One World, an imprint of Penguin Random House, is reportedly scheduled to publish the work.

It was in November 2021 that famed fashion designer Virgil Abloh passed away after a two-year battle with cancer at the age of 41. An outpouring of grief from some of the world’s biggest celebrities flooded social media, with people like Drake, Gigi Hadid, Questlove, Hailey Bieber, and many others posting emotional and heartfelt tributes to the designer.

Vogue is reporting that Virgil, who was very close friends with Kanye ‘Ye’ West, began writing the book, called Work In Progress with Anja Aronowsky Cronberg, founder and editor-in-chief of Vestoj, a few years ago. While the book does not yet have a secured publication date, One World has called the book a “hybrid work that combines cultural criticism, theory, art, and personal narrative.”

Aronowsky Cronberg told Vogue that when they began to write the book a few years ago, they, “based it on the conversations we were having: in person, over the phone, via emails, in message threads. We talked about Virgil’s process and ‘logic,’ and about ideas central to his practice: irony and earnestness, hybridity, paradox, the value of originality, and the policing of ‘good’ taste.”

One World told the outlet that, “Work in Progress is the culmination of their dialogue, a book that illuminates the ideas behind Abloh’s astonishing process and practice.”  

A month after Virgil passed, Aronowsky Cronberg published in Vestoj an interview conducted with Virgil prior to his death, where the designer said that inserting the Black experience and Black narratives into white spaces, and especially in art history books, was of great importance to his ethos and methodology.

“There are millions who’ve come before me. I’m not saying I’m brand new to the Black canon: I’m just carving out some more space here,” he said. “My investigation, my work, my trajectory speaks, I hope, to a generation of young Black people who need to know that there’s an open space for them to occupy too. But it’s a work in progress.”

He continued, “I’m an autodidact, an explorer, and often I’m an amateur too. My career in that sense is an investigative exploration. It’s about how to be a Black thinker in white spaces; it’s about inserting the Black canon in art history books. It’s about being a Black voice that matters beyond the fringes.”

He ended off with, “I want to be able to look back at my life and career and know that I left some inanimate objects behind, yes, but also a logic that changed the mainstream.”

The publisher has also said that Aronowsky Cronberg has “the full support of [Abloh's] wife, Shannon Abloh, access to his archives, and the participation of his most trusted creative collaborators and friends.”

Though they haven't specified which collaborators, some of the famous faces Abloh has worked with in the past include Kim Kardashian, ‘Ye, Rihanna, Migos rappers Offset and Quavo, Pharrell, Timothee Chalamet, and many more. 

When news of his tragic passing hit, all of those and more responded on social media with mourning and praise for the boundary-pushing fashion trailblazer.

Hailey Bieber posted a heartbreaking tribute to the Off-White founder, thanking him for designing her wedding dress, and for being a guiding light and force.

“Virgil completely changed the way I looked at street style and fashion, the way he looked at things inspired me deeply,” she wrote on Instagram.  “I will never be able to fully express how grateful I am to have known him and worked with him, from walking on his runways to having him design my wedding dress and all the other amazing moments in between, I felt he was always rooting for me. He was someone who always brought life, charisma, love and fun to any situation, and every room he walked into. A once in a generation creative mind that is so rare and I’ll never forget his impact. We love you Virgil.”

Pharrell Williams wrote, “My heart is broken. Virgil you were a kind, generous, thoughtful creative genius. your work as a human and your work as a spiritual being will live forever. Sending love and light to your wife, children, family and day ones. you’re with the Master now, shine.”

Alexis Ohanian, founder of Reddit and Serena Williams’ other half, tweeted about the last text Virgil ever sent him. 

David and Victoria Beckham, Idris Elba, BTS, Bruno Mars, Finneas, and many more posted tributes, per Glamour. A month after his passing, celebs had one final Virgil catwalk fashion show to pay tribute to the late designer and friend. 

Hours following the announcement that Virgil had passed, ‘Ye did a live broadcast of his "Sunday Service" on his website, performing a touching rendition of Adele's "Easy On Me" along with his choir, per People. The message "IN LOVING MEMORY OF VIRGIL ABLOH, THE CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF DONDA," was sprawled on the screen.

According to The New York Times, Ye and Virgil had been friends for years, and he appointed Virgil to be the creative director of his creative incubator Donda. Virgil even received a Grammy nomination for his art direction on Ye and Jay-Z's album, "Watch the Throne." 

Recently, Drake dedicated his latest album Honestly Nevermind to his late friend, writing in a statement about the album and its influences, "DEDICATED TO OUR BROTHER V."

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