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ROCKFORD — From this day forward December 1 in Rockford will be known as Virgil Abloh Day.
Abloh, a Rockford native who went on to become one of the most influential and creative figures in art, fashion, and design, died Sunday at the age of 41. According to his verified Instagram account, he was privately battling a rare form of cancer for the past two years.
The city of Rockford held a news conference on Wednesday in front of the Coronado Performing Arts Center, to honor Abloh's life, accomplishments and to proclaim December 1 as Virgil Abloh Day.
Mayor Tom McNamara said the city will hold another event to celebrate his life when the family has expressed a readiness to do so but until then he wanted to create a place where Rockfodians could honor his memory.
"I wanted to create some sense of a place that individuals in our community who were inspired, who were impacted by Virgil's life could come," McNamara said. "A place that people could come and just simply pay their respects to a Rockford native who has passed far too soon."
Coronado Performing Arts Center's sign read, "Forever in your hometown's heart. Rest in Peace. Virgil Abloh."
Abloh is mostly known for being the first Black artistic director of the Louis Vuitton menswear collection. Prior to Louis Vuitton, he was the CEO and founder of the Milan-based label Off-White and in 2018 was named in Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World.
Abloh's list of accomplishments extends to being the creative director for Kanye West in 2013 and collaborating with Nike in 2018 to design an Off-White collection of soccer jerseys.
The first set of the jerseys along with other Nike gear was sent to Boylan Catholic High School soccer players with the message "Once a Titan, always a Titan." Abloh was a 1998 graduate of the Rockford school.
A photo of Boylan students wearing the jerseys that Abloh gifted to his alma mater hangs prominently in the school. School president Amy Ott said she hopes current students are inspired by the image.
"They see that there was someone that was connected to them, that was a part of it," Ott said. "I think that's where and that's how his inspiration lives on and how he just kept breaking down barriers and trying new things."
From humble beginnings growing up in Rockford to reaching the apex of the fashion industry, Abloh's story of perseverance will live on to inspire generations to come.
"Knowing that anything's possible and knowing that no matter where you come from, what color your skin, you can do whatever and you can be amazing," Ott said.
This article originally appeared on Rockford Register Star: Virgil Abloh Day: City honors Rockford native on December 1