Virgil Abloh was a true Renaissance man. Especially to the Houston creative community. The rise of the beloved fashion designer and visionary is a story of generations. Raised in Chicago and formally trained as an architect, he is best known as the design aficionado who bridges the worlds of streetwear, music and high fashion.
Abloh was one friends and creative collaborators of rapper Ye (Kanye West’s favorite name now). At the head of the world’s most iconic fashion houses, Louis Vuitton, Abloh paved the way for young designers, making him a cultural giant, a beacon of possibilities and a mentor. At just 41 years old, Abloh died on November 28 from a battle with cancer.
One of the most salient aspects of Abloh’s grief is that so many people have such fond memories of her vision, her kindness, and of course her impact. We chatted with some of Houston’s creatives about his heritage. :
David Rodriguez, Entrepreneur, designer and co-founder of The Tipping Point
âVirgil was instrumental in the transition from what we did on the streets to haute couture. If we think of it as a video game, he was like the boss. [His rise] was the culmination of everything and everyone’s work. It’s a good look for the community. When someone from the street wins, we all win. Corporate spaces are obliged to pay attention to us. He understood why it was important to do what he was doing and to show that more people in the community are talented and can make a difference. The most important thing I took away from his passing was that he paved the way for other people to say, “I can do this.” He broke down barriers that had been locked for years.
NelXArt, Designer and artist
âWhen I was in Miami, I visited the Off-White, and that’s where it really hit me. Growing up, if you knew fashion and were on Tumblr, you knew Virgil. He really was doing it and fulfilled a dream that he and Ye had with Louis Vuitton. It was so impactful. He turned what some might call an unrealistic goal into a realistic one. It really fueled my ambition and my motivation. People are versatile and you can’t put them in a box. I’m a black woman who creates and creates when people say it’s not possible. I have always been very motivated and nothing can stop me.
Preston Gaines, architect and artist
âVirgil is like an idol and a major icon to me in so many ways. Going to PV, I had my group of architectural friends, we idolized Kanye and Virgil and embodied them throughout our time in college. He was an architect by training and he found this creative release through fashion and design. It served as a major inspiration to me and made me realize that I didn’t need to limit myself, that I could use this analytical thinking to apply myself to any task I might be faced with and express myself. . He saw this same inspiration in his work.
Josh Allen, Designer, DJ and Founder of Richard & Grace
âWhen 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 released a coherent collection. It inspired me to do it too. I was 18 and I knew he was making clothes from scratch and had ideas, and it felt like fashion was changing 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 bond with Kanye made him even cooler, as Ye played, Virgil would have designed it. It’s so inspiring to me. I have the impression that art is beyond a canvas, a painting. Virgil knew so many ways and people so well, and thinks beyond what I thought. Virgil helped me on this trip.