TRIBUTES TO VIRGIL ABLOH

Virgil Abloh – the trailblazing designer, architect, DJ, creative collaborator and philanthropist who founded Off-White and was the first Black designer to lead Louis Vuitton as Artistic Director – passed away on Sunday. In celebration of Abloh and the immense impact he had and will continue to have, we asked Selfridges team members to share their memories of Abloh and the ways he influenced them, as well as collecting the tributes from some of our wider Selfridges family in the days since he passed. Here, we share those dedications, from industry leaders through to those who worked on the shop floor with Off-White, on how he made our world a brighter place, and the legacy he leaves.

TRIBUTES TO VIRGIL ABLOH

Virgil Abloh – the trailblazing designer, architect, DJ, creative collaborator and philanthropist who founded Off-White and was the first Black designer to lead Louis Vuitton as Artistic Director – passed away on Sunday. In celebration of Abloh and the immense impact he had and will continue to have, we asked Selfridges team members to share their memories of Abloh and the ways he influenced them, as well as collecting the tributes from some of our wider Selfridges family in the days since he passed. Here, we share those dedications, from industry leaders through to those who worked on the shop floor with Off-White, on how he made our world a brighter place, and the legacy he leaves.

“Virgil was an inspiration and a great part of what menswear fashion is at Selfridges. We opened the first Off-White shop-in-shop what feels like many years ago now. The impact was instant. Customers, staff and fashion industry professionals alike competed to buy the first Off-White collection pieces. Signature ‘pieces’ selling out immediately. But the success was not only commercial in nature. The impact that Virgil’s Off-White had on London fashion and music culture was only beginning to dawn on us later. It was the start of a new guard of designers who we were able to work with from that moment onwards. 

 

Virgil pushed on so many levels what a fashion designer can be – music, fashion, art, homeware. His creativity reaching far into so many aspects of menswear culture.

 

I first met Virgil when working at Comme des Garçons, when he came to the store together with Kanye West. And we had some great exchanges about buying, products and brands, and how everything is linked together. It’s easy to see in hindsight now how it all fits together – but at the time, which must have been around 2009/2010, it was not. Social media was in its infancy and fashion did not have the cross-cultural influence it has now. Not least because of Virgil and the visionary he was. He worked and connected many a creative world together.

When Virgil became the first artistic director of Louis Vuitton with an African-American background, it further cemented the influence he had on the entire fashion industry, which I think will be remembered as a real moment of change. 

 

Besides his work in fashion for Off-White and LV, and with all the collaborators from Evian to Chrome Hearts, Virgil was the most incredible DJ. I do not know how he found the time to do everything. That truly, for me, makes him a huge source of inspiration forever. 

 

Virgil will be greatly missed. A huge talent that we’ve lost. Rest in power.”

 

– BOSSE MYHR

Selfridges Director of  Menswear & Womenswear

KIM JONES

Artistic Director for Dior Men’s, and Artistic Director for Fendi womenswear and couture

“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 💔💔💔”

DANIEL ARSHAM

Artist

“We have lost a visionary Artist. 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. ❤️‍🔥”

RYAN HAWAII

Artist, designer and musician

“Damn….so hard to sum it up. How to feel, it still doesn’t seem real. I’m heartbroken, but not sad. Your life will be spoken about long after any of us are around, so who’s really gone?

I am honoured to have called you a mentor and a friend. You always had time for my crazy ideas & random WhatsApp messages. You told your friends about me, one was Kanye. He ended up clothes clothes off me. You had a way of bringing people together and lifting them up. You had me front row and your LV show in Paris. You invited me to work with your brand countless times, had me in Selfridges doing MY ting. You called me “OUR VAN GOGH” when you wrote on my trainers. You believed in me.

You made the world a better place and made me and all the other creative young black people all over the world because you made us believe it was possible, because it is. Thank you Virgil. Love you, one day I will tell my kids about you. ❤️”

“I really can’t believe it. Even though I didn’t get the chance to know you or call you a ‘friend’, you’ve always been a mentor to me one way or another. Virgil taught me a very important lesson – that you can do it too, just as he did. He left us with his influence and legacy, to create and change the world, and even though he’s physically gone, his name and legacy will always live on, inspiring others and paving the way for the next generation. He showed me that taking decisions and knowing all the viable risks is something worth doing, and this is a perfect example of the kind of person and spirit he is, always taking risks and breaking and challenging the norm. 

 

Thank you for everything, Virgil. 

 

“I’m not made for a podium, but I’ll design a podium that ushers in systemic change.” – Virgil Abloh
 

- BENEDETTA ATTI

Selfridges Sales Associate for Off-White

SAMUEL ROSS

Founder of A-COLD-WALL

“Another double take-home tonight family.

I can imagine the exact conversation we’d have now – design as action, holistic design, the power of people, our ancestors watching on as we play chess in real time.

Rest easy mentor, spirit guide – genius.

Your legacy lives on through your actions, spirit & optimism.

Your capacity to dream and actualise far beyond the now, was the intervention only you could deliver across the fields of Fashion, Design, the Arts & academia – the cultural intervention we needed to weave a thorough tapestry across the diaspora, dissolving tensions  finding familiarities and joy through your ability to interweave pop-culture with critical-thought, continuously.

You are the lighthouse and piercing beam we needed to illuminate our journey forward.

We will continue to render and build what you have laid foundations for, expanding into the sectors, fields and industries you planned to modernise.

Thank you V.
🏛”

RENÉ BLERIOT

Founder of Blerriot and Selfridges Sales Associate for Off-White 

“I was never blessed enough to call Virgil my friend, but regardless, he was a mentor. I think this is an example of his spirit and how his influence spread way further than those who knew him personally. Virgil changed the status quo of fashion, not just the style of product, but he redefined luxury and opened up doors that seemed permanently shut. He navigated through the hardships that he had to endure because of his background with a smile and made sure his culture and community were respected and gave opportunities the whole journey. 

 

For me, Virgil was the only example I had that I can follow those dreams that I had as a kid. He made me believe through and through that my lack of experience in fashion couldn’t hold me back to make a luxury brand. He inspired me to believe in my passion and believe that there’s nothing wrong with learning as you go. 

 

More importantly, he showed me that the power lies in kicking doors down so everyone is given the equal opportunity to achieve, too. An individual win should be accompanied with a win for the next generation. If he can do it, I can do it, and if I can do it, you can do it too. 

 

Thank you, V, we will continue your legacy.”

RYAN HAWAII

Artist, designer and musician

“Damn….so hard to sum it up. How to feel, it still doesn’t seem real. I’m heartbroken, but not sad. Your life will be spoken about long after any of us are around, so who’s really gone?

I am honoured to have called you a mentor and a friend. You always had time for my crazy ideas & random WhatsApp messages. You told your friends about me, one was Kanye. He ended up clothes clothes off me. You had a way of bringing people together and lifting them up. You had me front row and your LV show in Paris. You invited me to work with your brand countless times, had me in Selfridges doing MY ting. You called me “OUR VAN GOGH” when you wrote on my trainers. You believed in me.

You made the world a better place and made me and all the other creative young black people all over the world because you made us believe it was possible, because it is. Thank you Virgil. Love you, one day I will tell my kids about you. ❤️”

NIGO

Creative Director at Kenzo

“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.”

BENEDETTA ATTI

Selfridges Sales Associate for Off-White

“I really can’t believe it. Even though I didn’t get the chance to know you or call you a ‘friend’, you’ve always been a mentor to me one way or another. Virgil taught me a very important lesson – that you can do it too, just as he did. He left us with his influence and legacy, to create and change the world, and even though he’s physically gone, his name and legacy will always live on, inspiring others and paving the way for the next generation. He showed me that taking decisions and knowing all the viable risks is something worth doing, and this is a perfect example of the kind of person and spirit he is, always taking risks and breaking and challenging the norm. 

 

Thank you for everything, Virgil. 

 

“I’m not made for a podium, but I’ll design a podium that ushers in systemic change.” – Virgil Abloh

Virgil Abloh’s immeasurable accomplishments across fashion, art and music inspired so many of us and will continue to influence how we see and experience culture. What’s clear from the tributes to his character, his work and his achievements is that we are only beginning to feel the impact he had, and his legacy will continue to empower people young and old for many more years to come.

 

Life is so short you can’t waste even a day subscribing to what someone thinks you can do versus knowing what you can do.

– Virgil Abloh

THE VIRGIL ABLOH™ “POST-MODERN”
SCHOLARSHIP FUND

In 2020, Virgil Abloh established a fund to support the next generation of Black fashion talent.

Visit the link below if you wish to donate to the fund and support Virgil Abloh’s legacy 

Image credits: Edward Berthelot / Getty Images
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