Death of Virgil Abloh and Stephen Sondheim


Luca Fasciano, Contributing Writer

This past Nov., fashion genius Virgil Abloh, along with one of the most influential Broadway composers of the century, Stephen Sondheim, unfortunately passed away.  Both deaths took the world by surprise, leaving many in grief.  Although Abloh’s and Sondheim’s lives spanned different eras, both left a huge mark in their fields and will not be forgotten.  

“They were both extremely talented souls who will be deeply missed and remembered,” said sophomore Taylor Schorr. 

Virgil Abloh was a pioneer in the fashion world, single-handedly paving the way for many of the most popular trends of recent years.  At the age of 41, Abloh’s passing left the world in shock, as he had chosen to keep his battle with cancer, which ultimately took his life, private.   Although his time was tragically cut short, Abloh still accomplished enough in the fashion industry for several lifetimes.

Abloh’s success story began with superstar Kanye West, whom he worked with for several years.  Eventually, he branched out and created Pyrex Vision, which sold Ralph Lauren flannel shirts honoring Michael Jordan, among other products.  This particular design sold out quickly, costing $550 per shirt.  Abloh later transformed Pyrex into his most famous project, which changed fashion forever: Off-White.  Known for its minimalistic designs, the brand racked up publicity for its blend of classic streetwear with higher-end clothes.  Abloh’s slogan for the brand was “the gray area between black and white as the color Off-White,” embracing that combination of styles.  Off-White soon began collaborating with other huge brands, including Nike, Ikea, and Levi’s.  Off-White’s signature designs, such as his use of “quotation marks” and “X’s” on the fashion runway, garnered numerous awards.  In addition, he opened storefronts that resembled art-galleries and held exhibits at art-museums around the world.  

While operating a multimillion-dollar company, Abloh spent much of his time not too far from Schreiber, at the family-run department store Hirshleifers in Manhasset.  Quickly befriending the Hirshleifer Family, he often created art installations there. 

“He was always very down-to-earth and friendly.  He also made sure to be inclusive towards all the staff and family members,” said sophomore Prue Stephens, a member of the Hirshleifer family. 

Virgil Abloh held a powerful influence in many different artistic fields, and his legacy will certainly live on.

Stephen Sondheim also played an essential role in the arts; however, rather than fashion, he was known for his work in the theater.  Born and raised in New York, his upbringing played a huge influence on the Broadway shows he wrote.  Throughout his adolescense, Sondheim was always interested in music, even writing a play for a high school.  His breakthrough, however, came with his first show, titled “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.”  The play ran for two full years, earning Sondheim his first Tony Award. 

In 1961, Sondheim created his most well-known piece, “West Side Story,” which ran until 2020.  Throughout the 1970s and 1980’s, Sondheim churned out several critically acclaimed shows, such as ​​“Pacific Overtures” (1976), “Sweeney Todd” (1979), and “Sunday in the Park With George” (1984). 

“I think his shows were so significant because he picked topics that were unexpected for that time,” said sophomore Holly Sternlicht.

This slew of plays ultimately won Sondheim eight Tony Awards, eight Grammy Awards, an Oscar, and a Pulitzer Prize. 

Sondheim never truly stepped out of the public eye, participating in an interview with the New York Times less than a week before his passing.  Sondheim died peacefully in his summer house at the age of 91.

Both Stephen Sondheim and Virgil Abloh made history in their fields and will be remembered forever as titans of art and creativity.