He died on Sunday from a “rare, aggressive form of cancer”, which the designer had fought in private for two years.
Abloh “changed the fashion industry”
Among those mourning the loss of one of the fashion and design worlds’ most prolific names were British Vogue editor Edward Enninful.
“Virgil Abloh changed the fashion industry,” Enninful wrote on Instagram. “Famously prolific, he always worked for a greater cause than his own illustrious career: to open the door to art and fashion for future generations, so that they – unlike himself – would grow up in a creative world with people to mirror themselves in.”
“Virgil believed that anything was possible for humankind if only we could tear ourselves away from unconscious biases and norms and reassume the imagination we had as children,” Enninful added.
“His achievements won’t just live on. They will continue to evolve, because we are only seeing the beginning of his impact on the creative industries and surrounding world. My thoughts are with his family and all those who loved him. Rest in peace, Virgil, a giant among men.”
Abloh “launched legitimately 100+ of careers”
Architect Wong of Food New York, who created a sketch design for a 15-minute city with Abloh in a live video call at Cape Town’s Design Indaba conference, said working with Abloh was “a blur of energy and inexhaustible joy and optimism like anything and everything was possible. But also that somehow it was easy and effortless.”
“He changed my life,” Wong added. “Like directly. He asked Oana and I to design his first ever Off-White store while we were in the car in Paris on the way to Kim and Kanye’s wedding. It would be the first permanent piece of architecture we ever built and a huge part of my work to this day is because of that project.”
“He invited so many kids to work on something together, probably launched legitimately 100+ of careers. And kids that wouldn’t be at all welcome in the worlds he was in except for the fact that he held the doors wide open for them after he had already picked the locks previously.”
“We have lost a visionary artist”
New York designer Daniel Arsham also underlined Abloh’s dedication to collaborative work.
“We have lost a visionary Artist,” Arsham said on Instagram. “Devastated to learn about the passing of @virgilabloh / 11 years ago he cold-called my studio and asked me to come meet with him about some projects. This was before Pyrex, Been Trill, Off-White and all the other revolutionary projects he embarked on.”
“He was always ready for a text message conversation about chair design or architecture. He was kind enough to write the introduction to my last major book and in it distilled with his unique voice what I was hoping to achieve with my own work. He was a unique talent, a visionary artist, a friend. Love you Virg. You have made an indelible mark on so many of us.”
As well as his work on Off-White and at Louis Vuitton, Abloh worked closely with artist and musician Kanye West, who he met while interning at Fendi. He was appointed creative director of West’s agency Donda in 2010.
West’s Dondalive website now reads: “In loving memory of Virgil Abloh, the creative director of Donda,” and yesterday, West’s Sunday Service choir performed Adele’s song “Easy On Me” in Abloh’s honour, Complex reported.
“You brought lights to entire generations”
Abloh’s designs were worn by some of the world’s most famous models and actors. Model Gigi Hadid said he will be “deeply missed.”
“I am heartbroken by the loss of my dear friend, and a friend to the world, Virgil Abloh,” she wrote on Instagram.
“He was 1 of 1. His kindness and energetic generosity left a lasting impression on every life he touched – he made everyone feel seen and special.”
French fashion designer and Balmain director Olivier Rousteing shared his condolences on Instagram, saying:
“U made dream an entire world, you brought lights to entire generations. By your art, your vision, your W O R D S, you made it clear that everything is possible.”
Studio Olafur Eliasson, which took part in the Eco-Visionaires exhibition at London’s Royal Academy of Arts together with Abloh, stated: “Goodbye Virgil and thanks for everything – the friendship, inspiration, the push for change and for your smile!”
“Your structural talent and personal visionary depth moved me and my kids (who think you’re the best artist) and helped me reconsidering my work methods when at my studio where your artistic impact mattered when facing forward leaving what had been behind,” it continued.
“We will all miss you a lot and honour your legacy by staying progressive, human and real.”
Abloh’s most recent collection for Louis Vuitton, Spring/Summer 2022, will be shown in Miami tomorrow and pay tribute “to the life and legacy of a creative genius,” the brand said.
The photography is by Ovidiu Hrubaru for Shutterstock.