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BoF Honours Virgil Abloh With Global VOICES Award

VOICES 2021 ended with an homage to the late designer who had a transformational influence on the industry.
Nikhil Mansata, Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, Imran Amed and Anand Ahuja attend the annual BoF VOICES 2021 Gala Dinner at Soho Farmhouse.
Nikhil Mansata, Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, Imran Amed and Anand Ahuja attend the annual BoF VOICES 2021 Gala Dinner at Soho Farmhouse. (Getty Images)

In October, BoF founder and chief executive Imran Amed wrote to Virgil Abloh to offer the designer the Global VOICES Award.

Each year, the award honours a member of The Business of Fashion community who has used their position in fashion to have an influence on the wider world.

Abloh, a designer who broke down boundaries to become one of fashion’s most influential creatives, was more than qualified. The award was intended to recognise the designer’s “tireless work championing talent, raising marginalised voices and creating new pathways into fashion,” Amed wrote in his letter.

But this week Abloh was meant to be in Miami for the opening of a major new menswear store and fashion show for Louis Vuitton, where he served as the men’s artistic director. Organising the award virtually proved impossible so the plan was to issue no award this year and honour Abloh in 2022.

Last week, the designer passed away after a private battle with cancer. And on the final night of VOICES 2021, BoF awarded Abloh the Global VOICES Award posthumously alongside a donation to his Post-Modern Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships to promising students who are Black or of African descent with ambitions in fashion.

“Someone told me that in the Ghanaian tradition you celebrate life,” Amed said at a gala dinner to mark the close of VOICES 2021. “So tonight we’re celebrating Virgil, even though he’s not here with us.”

The event marked the close of BoF’s annual gathering for big thinkers, which brings together industry leaders, activists and experts from around the world for a busy schedule of thought-provoking talks and discussions. This year’s VOICES took place against a backdrop of global crises, from Covid-19 to the climate emergency, but the sessions were optimistic and future-looking, examining everything from the metaverse to mushroom-based leather to gender-free fashion. Speakers included designers such as Dame Vivienne Westwood, Christian Louboutin and Tommy Hilfiger, as well as biologist Merlin Sheldrake and author Jay Shetty.

The discussion spilled into the evening as guests including Jordan Dunn, David Gandy, Harris Reed and Sonam Kapoor sat down to a dinner from chef Jackson Boxer before a performance from singer Ama Lou.

David Koma, Neelam Gill and Jourdan Dunn attend the BoF VOICES 2021 Gala Dinner at Soho Farmhouse.
OXFORDSHIRE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03:  (L-R) Stavros Karelis, Tiffany Hsu, Susanna Lau and Han Chong attend the BoF VOICES 2021 Gala Dinner at Soho Farmhouse on December 03, 2021 in Oxfordshire, England. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images for BoF VOICES)
René Célestin, Stefano Martinetto, Frederic Court, Nicolas Santi-Weil and Caroline Rush attend the BoF VOICES 2021 Gala Dinner.
Eric Underwood, Vanessa Kingori and Wayne McGregor attend the BoF VOICES 2021 Gala Dinner.
Tim Blanks, Giles Deacon and Jeff Lounds attend the BoF VOICES 2021 Gala Dinner at Soho Farmhouse.

VOICES 2021 is made possible in part through our partners McKinsey & Company, Shopify, Clearco, Klarna, Brandlive, Flannels, Snap, Getty Images, Soho House and The Invisible Collection.

Further Reading

In the fifth and final session of BoF’s annual gathering, Vanessa Kingori, Jay Shetty, Sinéad Burke, Christian Louboutin and others spoke about finding personal fulfillment in the face of adversity.


In the fourth session of BoF’s annual gathering, Harris Reed, Simon Whitehouse, Rafat Ali and others discussed the future of travel, the future of work and the future of gender-free fashion.


In the third session of BoF’s annual gathering, Merlin Sheldrake, Ian Rogers, Wayne McGregor and others examined mycelium-based leather, virtual clothing, cyber threats and AI.


In the second session of BoF’s annual gathering, Balenciaga CEO Cedric Charbit, Ellen MacArthur, Tommy Hilfiger and others addressed virtual fashion, circularity and forging authentic collaborations. Elle announced it would stop publishing images of animal fur.


In the first session of BoF’s annual gathering, speakers including Vivienne Westwood and Janaya Future Khan addressed the climate crisis, stakeholder capitalism, an antidote for cultural appropriation, what activism really means and the loneliness epidemic.


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Enjoy 25% BoF Professional membership until December 20