Fashion

Virgil Abloh: leader by example

Virgil Abloh  

On the last night of November, the words ‘Virgil was here’ were scrawled across the Miami sky in drone lights as a thousand people raised their eyes to remember and salute a designer whose contribution to fashion went far beyond, well, fashion and firmly into the realm of culture. Louis Vuitton showed Virgil Abloh’s Spring-Summer 2022 menswear collection to both the fashion community and the Virgil community — encompassing art, music, the whole darn internet — gathered together one last time for the man they loved.

Also read | Thank you, Virgil Abloh

I am far more affected by Abloh’s passing than I really should be, given that I have no strong personal connection to him, his designs, or indeed the brands he helmed. Perhaps it is because his great power, and what Abloh ultimately stood for, was possibility. He opened doors that have been sealed shut for as long as any of us can remember. He built a path for Black kids like him with big dreams and endless ambition, and showed them that it could be done.

Virgil Abloh: leader by example

He was showing the world, yes, but it always felt like he was showing the kids.

Everyone who speaks of Abloh speaks of his unrelenting optimism, his kindness and compassion, his generosity and warmth — qualities uncommon in fashion. After his passing, social media was awash with stories of him helping his community, giving back, offering words of encouragement, advice and mentorship to young ones. Having read a story in Vogue about a group of young skaters in Ghana, Abloh reached out quietly to the reporter to help build them a skatepark, which was completed this year. He fundraised regularly for organisations working towards reducing poverty and gun violence. Last year, he raised $1 million to launch his Post-Modern scholarship fund for Black students to make the fashion industry a more inclusive place, to help level the playing field.

Designs from Abloh’s Spring-Summer 2022 menswear collection

Designs from Abloh’s Spring-Summer 2022 menswear collection  

Many Virgil Abloh quotes have been referenced over the last few days. One of my favourites is where he talks about his brand Off-White: “It’s targeted towards the demographic that can afford it. But for the demographic that can’t afford it, it’s meant so that you start the competing brand that’s better than Off-White.” And perhaps the most special thing about Abloh was that he would happily help you do it.

Aishwarya Subramanyam is a journalist and former editor of Elle magazine.


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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 12:44:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/fashion/virgil-abloh-leader-by-example-louis-vuitton-designer/article37834988.ece

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