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The Fashion World Remembers Virgil Abloh

The industry pays tribute to the much-loved designer, who died on Sunday.
Virgil Abloh
Virgil Abloh (Karim Sadli)

Virgil Abloh was much loved. In the hours since his death was announced, tributes to the late designer have filled social media, underscoring not only his multi-tasking creative genius and almost superhuman energy, but also his brilliance as a human being who made friends everywhere he went.

Davide De Giglio, co-founder of New Guards Group, and Andrea Grilli, chief executive of New Guards Group “Virgil was a genius, a visionary but most of all he was family. There are no words to describe the loss that his passing leaves in our lives. His legend, his love and his spirit will remain with us forever. Thank you for changing our lives, Virgil. Rest in power, brother.”

Matthew Williams, creative director of Givenchy “I can’t find the words…so many beautiful memories together. You were there with me through so many life defining moments, always a supportive friend and positive influence. You have been such an inspiration to me. My heart goes out to your family. Love you brother. I’m going to miss you so much.”

Nigo, DJ and founder of A Bathing Ape “The fashion world changed completely with his arrival. But, not only in fashion - it is difficult to understand the extent of his influence. He used to say that he was greatly influenced by me, but now I can’t imagine myself without Virgil’s presence. It’s so sudden - I can’t accept his death. I am full of thoughts of gratitude beyond my power to express. Thank you, Virgil. May you rest in peace.”

Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive of LVMH “We are all shocked by this terrible news. Virgil was not only a genius designer and a visionary, he was also a man with a beautiful soul and great wisdom. The LVMH family joins me in this moment of great sorrow and we are all thinking of his loved ones on the passing of their husband, father, brother, son and friend.”

Michael Burke, Louis Vuitton chairman and chief executive “It is with profound sorrow that I learned of the passing of Virgil Abloh. Virgil was not only a friend, great collaborator, creative genius, visionary and disruptor, but also one of the best cultural communicators of our times. He paved the way for future generations. As a devoted supporter of his community through his charities and passions, he was an eternal optimist who believed anything was possible. In this same spirit, we at Louis Vuitton will proudly continue to celebrate his legacy with a final show in Miami, per his wishes. I am honored to have called him my friend. My deepest thoughts are with his wife, children, parents, family and the entire community that was touched by his greatness.”

Alexandre Arnault, executive vice president of product and communications at Tiffany “Virgil Abloh was the essence of modern creativity. It was always a privilege to work with him on many occasions and I was constantly amazed by the amount of groundbreaking ideas coming out of his brain. Whether it was with Kanye, Been Trill, Pyrex Vision, Off White, Louis Vuitton, RIMOWA, everything he touched pushed the boundaries of creation. On a personal note, he was a dear friend, always giving me the most precious advice, always on point. Thank you for everything you brought to the world Virgil. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, wife and children.”

Francesca Ragazzi, head of editorial content at Vogue Italia

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Peggy Gou, DJ “The words don’t exist to describe the shock. Taken from us so soon, not many people including myself knew about the battle Virgil was fighting. The fact he kept this private and chose to fight and work until his last breath was a reflection of an incomparable work ethic and passion. Virgil broke down barriers that no one thought could be possible. He held decision-makers to account and challenged boundaries everywhere he went. A disruptor like no other that set a new standard for humanity. I will forever be grateful that in the infancy of my career, Virgil showed support at a time when not many others would. This was a testament to Virgil’s championing spirit, he didn’t leave anyone behind. He truly believed in bringing everyone up together. He fought so much for many communities across multiple industries. He will remain a true pioneer and hero of our generation that we will never forget.

“Rest in Power, Virgil. Thank you for inspiring me and countless others.”

Yoon Ahn, creative director of Ambush and director of jewellery at Dior Men “He talked from the heart with no guidelines with generosity, inclusion, dreams, and thought without limits like an absolute true legend. I, amongst many many others, will continue to carry the torch to which he set aflame for all of us creatives. To the genre and defying human that he was, Rest well @virgilabloh 🕊”

Marcelo Burlon, founder, Marcelo Burlon County of Milan “Ciao Virgil! You came to this world to make a huge change in society. You showed me the way. Thank you.”

Kerby Jean-Raymond, founder of Pyer Moss and creative director of Reebok “The first. The best. The master. The rubric. He held the flashlight. He unlocked new worlds. He was impeccable with his word and generous with his time. An incredibly kind genius. Nothing will ever be the same. Thank you forever V.”

Fraser Cooke, senior director of influencer marketing and product collaborations, Nike “He achieved so much so young and it’s so sad to wake up to this terrible news. It is not often you can say someone changed the game but Virgil did that without question. My deepest condolences to his family. It was an honour to have known you Virgil. The world has lost a truly unique life force.”

Edward Enninful, editor in chief of British Vogue “Virgil Abloh changed the fashion industry. 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. 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.”

Imran Amed, founder and CEO of The Business of Fashion “When Virgil came into the fashion industry, he wasn’t universally embraced. Through sheer perspicacity, discipline, boundless energy and creativity he made it to the very top — and did so on his own terms.

“That he spent the last 2 years fighting cancer while giving back, setting up his scholarship fund and continuing to generate ideas, projects and provocations at a regular clip is a testament to his true source of energy: connecting with things he is passionate about and giving it 100% — even in the face of sceptics and critics.

“I’m so very sorry for his family and community of friends and followers for this tremendous loss. I will always treasure our many chats — virtual, WhatsApp and in-person.”

Robin Givhan, senior critic at large at The Washington Post “The beautiful, but terribly short, legacy of Abloh is not that of a genius artistic director. It’s better than that. It’s more important than that. He was extremely talented and extraordinarily hard-working. He had a distinctive point of view. But he was not superhuman, and he didn’t pretend to be. His many fans didn’t look upon him with awe. They regarded him with communion. The gift that he gave to aspiring Black designers was the ability to see themselves succeeding within a fashion system that had tantalized folks for generations. They could excel and thrive. And they could do so even if they were merely human.”

Kim Jones, artistic director of Dior Men and artistic director of Fendi women’s collection “So sad to hear about the passing of dear Virgil one of the kindest people you could meet, many great times spent travelling the world and hanging out in hotel rooms working on the floor and going through Japanese magazines and laughing and talking about ideas … my thoughts to Shannon and the children and the rest of his family.”

Riccardo Tisci, chief creative officer of Burberry “I’ll always remember the kind young guy, who stayed humble to the whole world even though he was able to visualize and read the world itself! Fly high and keep shining in Heaven my dear Virgil! See you there.”

Donatella Versace, creative director of Versace “Virgil, I am lost for words. The world has lost a fashion superstar. An innovator. A creator for the history books. I am thinking of all your loved ones on this tragic day. Love, Donatella.”

Pierpaolo Piccioli, creative director of Valentino “Virgil. We met thanks to Jun some years ago, and I went to this event where they were both DJing, we left each other with the promise that sooner or later we should have to make some music together, the three of us. The more I look for the right words to express my feelings in this moment, the more I have this memory of him, an amazingly talented young man, designer, father, artist, full of life and creativity, he changed the game of fashion with his disruptive humanity and curiosity, and I am sure that all of that will stay here with us.”

Jonathan Anderson, creative director of Loewe and JW Anderson “Virgil had an extraordinary ability to apply creativity and imaginative thinking to this world. Changing fashion and culture for the best. Such a great loss.”

Alessandro Michele, creative director of Gucci “May your kindness illuminate the world of angels. Until we meet again.”

Marc Jacobs, founder and head designer of Marc Jacobs “My heartfelt condolences to your loved ones- your family, your friends, and your coworkers. Gone way too soon. Thank you for all you have given us.”

Drake, rapper and singer “My plan is to touch the sky 1000 more times for you…love you eternally brother. Thank you for everything.”

François-Henri Pinault, chief executive of Kering “The passing of Virgil Abloh is a shock to the whole fashion world. He brought the eyes of a new generation to many creative fields and contributed to make fashion more open and more inclusive. My thoughts are with his family, his loved ones and all his colleagues.”

José Neves, founder, chairman and chief executive of Farfetch “Words cannot express how sad we are to lose Virgil. He was a creative genius, a visionary, and a friend and he made a truly enormous impact on culture. We send all of our love to his family, his friends and to everyone whose lives were touched by him. We will miss you and remember you, Virgil.”

Stavros Karelis, founder and buying director of Machine-A “We came together because of our [mutual] friend. The second project we did was named ‘Enlightenment’ I cannot think of any better word to describe what you have brought to this world. You changed the rules by not changing the dream — you changed everyone’s minds about who the dreamer should be. My deepest condolences to your family and close friends. Your work is the foundation of too many people dreaming as they ought to do. Because you made it possible and real for everyone. With grace & kindness, passion and love. Thank you.”

Jony Ive, chancellor of the Royal College of Art “He was a brilliant and passionate creative who was unfailingly curious and optimistic. As a master of his craft, he shared his experience and expertise with a wonderful generosity and kindness that made him a remarkable teacher.”

Editor’s Note: This story was updated on 29th November 2021 with additional commentary.

Disclaimer: LVMH is part of a group of investors who, together, hold a minority interest in The Business of Fashion. All investors have signed shareholders’ documentation guaranteeing BoF’s complete editorial independence.

Further Reading

The Off-White founder and Wizard of Oz fan isn’t just making clothes. He’s blazing his own Yellow Brick Road from nowheresville to the Emerald City of Paris and reprogramming Louis Vuitton in the process.

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