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‘An incredibly kind genius’: fashion and music stars pay tribute to Virgil Abloh

·3-min read

Ye dedicated his Sunday Service to him while Drake, BTS and Justin Timberlake highlight Abloh’s uniqueness

Ye, the singer formerly known as Kanye West, has paid tribute to friend and collaborator Virgil Abloh, who passed away following a two-year battle with an aggressive form of cancer.

Ye dedicated the latest of his Sunday Service concerts to Abloh at the weekend. At the end of the livestream of the show, which saw Ye’s choir sing a version of Adele’s Easy On Me, a message flashed onscreen that read: “IN LOVING MEMORY OF VIRGIL ABLOH, THE CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF DONDA.”

The two first started working together in the early 2000s with Abloh becoming Ye’s creative director in 2010. “I have all these ideas and Virgil is able to architect them,” Ye said in an interview, “because he is an actual architect.”

The fashion designer also oversaw the artwork for some of Ye’s most acclaimed album covers including My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Yeezus and his collaboration with Jay-Z, Watch The Throne. Abloh also designed the cover of A$AP Rocky’s Long Live A$AP as well as sleeves for Pop Smoke, Westside Gunn, Octavian and Lil Uzi Vert.

Virgil Abloh and Naomi Campbell.
Virgil Abloh and Naomi Campbell. Photograph: Richard Bord/Getty Images

Other celebrities paid tribute to Abloh, who was both the creative director of Off-White and the menswear creative director for Louis Vuitton, focusing on his originality and unique ability to play havoc with the worlds of fashion and music.

“The teachable lesson here is disrupt,” wrote the musician and film director Questlove on Instagram, “provoke. Be controversial. Push buttons. Be a conversation piece ... live as a true artist ... Virgil Abloh was art.”

Kerby Jean Raymond, creative director of fashion label Pyer Moss wrote that Abloh was, “the rubric. He unlocked new worlds,” and called him “an incredibly kind genius”.

Fellow designer Dontella Versace called him “an innovator. A creator for the history books.” Model Naomi Campbell left emojis of three broken hearts in the comments of Versace’s post.

Fashion brand Gucci’s official Twitter said that the designer was “an immense inspiration to us all both as a designer and as a person”, they wrote. “He will be deeply missed though his vision will live on through the trails he blazed throughout his career.”

Giorgio Armani commented that he “followed his career with great interest, his new approach to fashion and communication with a strong sense of inclusivity”.

Abloh with Lenny Kravitz, who paid tribute.
Abloh with Lenny Kravitz, who paid tribute. Photograph: Pierre Suu/Getty Images

Creatives from the across the world of music, film and sport including BTS, Justin Timberlake and Pharrell also paid tribute. Rapper Busta Rhymes thanked him for “an amazing and significant contribution to culture and all walks of life”, while Drake wrote that he would “touch the sky 1000 more times for you”.

Venus Williams wrote that Abloh “inspired me to be better in everything I do. His collections literally brought me to tears because they were so connected so beautiful and so inspiring.”

British actors Idris Elba and Riz Ahmed also celebrated Abloh’s achievements. Ahmed said that the designer had “stretched culture and changed the game”.

Abloh had been fighting cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare, aggressive form of the disease, according to an announcement on his official Instagram page. He was 41.

Meanwhile, Louis Vuitton announced that their upcoming spring/summer 2022 presentation, which is being held on 30 November in Miami, will be a tribute to the life and legacy of Abloh.

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