V, a/k/a Virgil Abloh, is a the founder of Louis Vuitton’s second men’s line, Off-White, and famous for making fashion statements on the runway at Pitti Uomo, New York Fashion Week and Christian Dior.
The Chicago-born designer died on Tuesday of a heart attack, aged 44. His recent work included Creative Director of Louis Vuitton’s womenswear line in 2015, as well as his own menswear label Pretty Damn Cool.
Frank Ocean posted this Instagram about Virgil Abloh.
Sadly, before his passing, Abloh was working on Project Virgil, a retrospective of his personal archive at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Both artists and the public paid tribute to him on Wednesday, expressing their sadness at the loss.
Some of the tributes were as simple as heartfelt words. James Corden took to Twitter to pay tribute to the man behind his success in fashion and music. “It’s a shame [Virgil Abloh] has left us too soon,” he wrote. “He was such a good spirit and fun to work with.”
It’s a shame @VirgilABloh has left us too soon. He was such a good spirit and fun to work with. I was humbled to work with him as well as anybody. Absolutely unforgettable. — James Corden (@JKCorden) November 15, 2017
Chris Rock also weighed in on the subject.
Years and years and years ago he started, and he was like, ok, I’ll take this. He was one of the first black designers to design things for Louis Vuitton and he continued to do that. I really liked him. Then when he started his own brand, some people thought he was really bad. I thought it was dope. I really loved his design. So I’m sorry to hear he’s dead. I’m sorry to the dude that told me his design was terrible. I’m sorry to everybody that was even thinking of this guy. So just be careful about what you say, because you’re a hero.
GQ weighed in on Abloh’s game-changing designs, telling Vogue UK that his Louis Vuitton collection had set a “new standard for luxury and a genuine sense of empowerment”.
Abloh’s death could have an impact on Off-White’s growth too, as talent agents in Los Angeles said the New York-based label’s success could lessen the opportunities for its menswear designers.
“You should ask Off-White where it’s going to be in a year,” Steve Levine, founder of Evolution Media Partners, told Vogue UK. “The trouble is now, there’s a strong chance it’s not going to be. But it’s not for me to say that. I don’t know what will happen with the top brands.”
Chris Miller-Diaz, business agent for Alexander Wang & Marc Jacobs, and vice president of Sherry Simon Associates, added: “Up until a month ago, Off-White was the most talked about menswear brand out there and it was only a matter of time until the American brands started to design towards him.
“Now, although his stylistic impact is going to be missed in the fashion industry, the integrity of his own brand has always been what set him apart and he will always be missed. But if he took the path and become someone else, he still will have more impact as a businessman.”
The only consolation for those mourning Abloh’s passing is that he didn’t reveal his heart attack on his Instagram account, but instead shared a video about his birth a few days after. Of course, that was promptly flooded with tributes.
Ahead of Off-White’s New York Fashion Week Show in June, Abloh told Fashionista that we would “see a great discussion” about whether his womenswear would be taking the same bold approach to its presentation that his menswear did in 2014.
Somebody asked him, “Hey, now that you’ve done the menswear show, what are you going to do for the women’s show?” And he’s like, “Listen, girl, I’m just going to do women’s. If it’s going to be an amazing experience for you, you’re going to enjoy it just like the men’s show was.” And we’re going to do it exactly the same.
Abloh had previously told Teen Vogue that his upcoming show for the American label would “be the craziest women’s show I’ve ever done”. Perhaps that was a tip-off.