Virgil Abloh was a true renaissance man. Especially to Houston's creative community. The beloved fashion designer and visionary's rise to prominence is a story for generations. Raised in Chicago and formally trained as an architect, he’s best-known as the design aficionado who bridged the worlds of streetwear, music and high fashion.
Abloh was one of rapper Ye's (Kanye West's preferred name, now) most trusted friends and creative collaborators. At the helm of the world’s most iconic fashion houses, Louis Vuitton, Abloh paved the path for young creators making him a cultural giant, a beacon of possibility, and a mentor. At just 41 years old, Abloh passed away on November 28 from a battle with cancer.
One of the most salient parts of mourning Abloh is that so many people have such fond memories of his vision, his kindness, and of course his impact. We spoke with a few of Houston’s creatives on his legacy.:
David Rodriguez, Entrepreneur, designer and co-founder of The Tipping Point
“Virgil was instrumental to bridging what we were doing in the street with high fashion. If we imagine this as a video game, he was like the boss. [His rise] was the culmination of everything and everybody’s work. It’s a good look for the community. When somebody from the street wins, we all win. The corporate spaces are forced to pay attention to us. He understood why it was important to do what he was doing and show that more people from the community are talented and can make things happen. The biggest thing I’ve taken from his passing is that he paved the way for other people to say, ‘I can do it.’ He broke barriers that had been locked down for years.”
NelXArt, Designer and artist
“When I was in Miami, I visited the Off-White, and that’s where it really hit me. Growing up, if you knew fashion and you were on Tumblr, you knew about Virgil. He was really doing it and brought a dream that he and Ye had to life with Louis Vuitton. It’s was so impactful. He made what some may call an unrealistic goal a realistic one. He really fueled my ambition and drive. People are multitalented and you can’t put them in a box. I’m a Black woman creating, and making when people say it's not possible. I’ve always been so driven, and nothing can stop me.”
Preston Gaines, Architect and artist
“Virgil’s like a major idol and icon for me in a lot of different ways. Going to PV, I had my select group of friends in architecture, we idolized Kanye and Virgil and we embodied them throughout our entire college time. He was a trained architect and he found this creative release through fashion and design. It served as a major inspiration for me and made me realize that I didn’t need to limit myself, that I could use this analytical thinking to apply to any and all tasks that I may be faced with and express myself. He saw that same inspiration in his work.”
Josh Allen, Designer, DJ and founder of Richard & Grace
“When I started making clothes, Off-White had just launched in 2013. I was in college. With Virgil, I saw someone who looked like me and he’s putting out a consistent collection. It inspired me to do it too. I was 18, and I knew that he was making garments from scratch, and coming up with ideas, and I felt like fashion was changing right before my eyes. This world was forming that I couldn’t fully express to anyone, I just wanted to be a part of it. He spoke my language. His being connected with Kanye made it even cooler, while Ye was performing, Virgil would have designed it. It’s so inspiring to me. I feel like art is so beyond a canvas, a painting. Virgil was so knowledgeable about so many lanes and people, and think beyond what I was thinking. Virgil helped me through that journey.”