To Black Designers In The Fashion Industry, Virgil Abloh Was Transcendent

I didn’t personally know Virgil Abloh, but his impact on us as black designers in the fashion industry will have a ripple effect for generations to come.

Virgil Abloh Painting

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Virgil Abloh’s Loss Will Have A Ripple Effect

The 2018 news outlet reports of Virgil taking the helm as Creative Director of LVMH was so beyond dope for designers of all levels—from those just starting out in design school to established, corporate designers to those indie, small self-label designers navigating the fickle fashion world. 

For black designers, in particular, his presence in previously uninviting spaces confirmed we were necessary, integral, and absolute. Through his personal “OFF-WHITE” brand, he told us that “we are fashion” —period! Not solely exclusive to the space of “consumer”—Virgil reminded us that we create, evoke, and embody the art, design, and idea of fashion. 

Virgil Abloh’s delicate and unabashed marriage of design, empathy, and kindness showed clearly in his design approach and aesthetic. Offering an inviting approach to the uncomfortable conversations surrounding the lack of black designers in fashion and/or high-level visibility roles in fashion, he extended opportunities. 

In a word, Virgil Abloh was transcendent. What he brought to fashion and forced us to see in fashion as black designers and designers on a whole was new, different, and needed for such a time as this. Virgil understood the assignment.

Kanye West, his friend and fashion collaborator, paid a fitting tribute to him by dedicating his recent Sunday Service in his honor with the message, “IN LOVING MEMORY OF VIRGIL ABLOH, THE CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF DONDA,” appearing on the screen during a Livestream of the service.  Westside Gunn, a prolific visual artist and Griselda rapper, shared on social media a portrait of Abloh that he commissioned and presented to the designer just prior to his death (see below).

Farewell, Dear Sir. Job well done. The remarkable gift you have left on the culture will remain untouched. 

#fashiondesign #blackfashiondesigner #Creative #OffWhite #blackcreative 

By: Noreen Francis, Designer, NF Designs
Noreen Francis is a fashion designer who has designed for NIKE, Ralph Lauren Polo, and Sears/Kmart among others.

Follow Noreen Francis’ fashion journey here.
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