Home Style The Fashion Community Mourns Virgil Abloh, Who Made the Industry Seem That Much Bigger

The Fashion Community Mourns Virgil Abloh, Who Made the Industry Seem That Much Bigger

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The Fashion Community Mourns Virgil Abloh, Who Made the Industry Seem That Much Bigger


News of pioneering designer Virgil Abloh’s death at 41 was met online Sunday with an outpouring of shock, grief, and admiration from friends and fans alike. The response made clear that, beyond his immeasurable influence in the public sphere, he will be remembered for his kindness and connectedness. Indeed, as the fashion community mourns the designer on social media, it is clear that the “fashion community” is broader now than it ever was, because Abloh helped expand it.

“My work exists in the space of pop culture,” Abloh told GQ earlier this year. And like his close friend and collaborator Kanye West, the Off-White founder and artistic director of menswear at Louis Vuitton helped open up fashion to the rest of the world, merging it with the digital age. Musicians, actors, fashion insiders, and Instagram influencers alike flocked to his designs in part because they spoke to culture at large: there was something for everyone. Abloh was known for his collaborations and friendships with celebrities including Ye, Bella and Gigi Hadid, and Drake, all of whom shared tributes to the designer yesterday. (Ye dedicated his latest Sunday Service to Abloh, whom he met in the early aughts, and had served as the creative director of Ye’s Donda project since 2010.) In a statement, LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault said that Abloh was “not only a genius designer, a visionary, he was also a man with a beautiful soul and great wisdom.” On Instagram, streetwear legend Nigo wrote, “He used to say that he was greatly influenced by me, but now I can’t imagine myself without Virgil’s presence.”

Many of Abloh’s young friends and fans grew up in the era that the designer helped forge—one in which fashion, streetwear, hip-hop, art, and the internet formed one continuous stream of consciousness, and of which he was an accessible figurehead. Model Hailey Bieber, who wore a custom Off-White gown with an unmistakably Virgil touch (“TILL DEATH DO US PART,” quote marks and all, was embroidered on the veil) during her wedding to Justin Bieber, wrote that “Virgil completely changed the way I looked at street style and fashion.” Actor Timothée Chalamet, who famously wore an Abloh-designed Vuitton harness to the Golden Globes in 2019, shared his DMs with the designer about their love for rapper Kid Cudi. “I am so grateful for everything you have done for us all, and for the community you built,” wrote Luka Sabbat, a close friend of Abloh’s. “Thank you for breaking boundaries and pushing the conversation forward. We can’t stop now.” In the words of their friend Zack Bia: “People often say ‘don’t meet your idols’…there was no one that made this more untrue than Virgil.”

The sheer number of Instagram DMs, text messages, and WhatsApp conversations shared in the wake of Abloh’s passing are a testament to the human mark he leaves on the fashion world, not often known for its warmth. Abloh, it seems, reached out and responded to everyone—eager to check in, to support, and encourage. In a way, mass communication was both his medium and his message. In a direct message that stylist Gabriella Karefa-Johnson shared to Instagram yesterday, Abloh said, “My goal is to birth 100 young versions of us with this platform a day !!,” a sentiment he echoed often. Alongside the post, Karefa-Johnson wrote, “The kindness was unparalleled and will be missed immeasurably. My god, I can’t believe we have to do fashion without him.”





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