Virgil Abloh remembers the first time he visited the Louvre. Just after graduating college, he took a trip to Paris by himself, stayed in a hostel, and, as he recalls, spent time “wandering the city for days on end.” The designer calls his introduction to the Louvre “the first time seeing things that I only saw in art history books. It was and still is a surreal experience knowing that those exact walls housed civilizations of art and ideas long before the present day.” A testament to just how far he’s come since that humble solo jaunt to Paris is the debut tomorrow of a collection of T-shirts and hoodies Abloh has made in honor of the museum’s Leonardo da Vinci exhibition.
It’s the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death. To pay homage to the Renaissance great, Abloh put his own signature stamp on the artist’s canvas with a mash up of his Off-White logos and da Vinci’s work. The first painting is titled “Virgin and Child With Saint John the Baptist and an Angel,” better known as “Virgin of the Rocks,” and the second is “Saint Anne, the Virgin Mary, and the Infant Jesus Playing With a Lamb,” better known as “Saint Anne.” The new collection, which will be available at the Louvre gift shop and online, as well as Off-White and Farfetch, was photographed inside the Grande Galerie of the Louvre.
Abloh’s idea was “to work with pieces that a wider audience perhaps has not been exposed to.” It was a strategic choice. “In doing this, I hope to inspire people to go on their laptops and do some research to find out more about what they’re seeing and wearing. To incite people to learn more about what they see here, to open this world up to them.” Abloh has long been an advocate for democratising art and fashion, and this project underscores that passion. It’s also personal for him; he feels that he and da Vinci share something important in common. “Since the beginning it’s been essential to my work to prove that any place is accessible to everyone, no matter how exclusive a place is or might seem,” Abloh says. “You can be interested in expressing yourself through more than one practice, and that creativity does not have to be tied to just one discipline. I think that Leonardo da Vinci was maybe the first artist to live by that principle and I’m trying to do that as well.”
Here’s an exclusive first look at the new collection from Off-White c/o Virgil Abloh and the Musée du Louvre.
This article was originally published by Vogue.com.