DESCRIBED countless times this week as a ‘genius’, ‘visionary’ and ‘trail-blazer’, Virgil Abloh, passing has shaken the fashion and music worlds to their core.
The Off-White™ founder has left a void of talent and creativity that may never be filled. But to honour Virgil Abloh, legacy, it’s important to celebrate his vast array of achievements and recognise the unique influence he had on contemporary culture.
While his achievements in the fashion world are well-documented, his relationship with music ran deep and he intentionally blurred the lines between the two.
Having dabbled as a DJ in his teens, he once told Hypebeast that “DJing is the new golf”, and even when he reached the upper echelons of the fashion world, he continued to DJ at parties and events, blending music into his shows. Big names in the industry associated themselves with Virgil – people like Kanye West, Rihanna, A$AP Rocky, Frank Ocean, and Peggy Gou recognised his talent and often trusted him to preview their unreleased music.
Paying respect to Virgil’s wealth of triumphs, here are five of his biggest moments in music:
2011: Grammy nomination received for Watch the Throne artwork
Virgil first met Kanye in Chicago, but the two crossed paths again in Rome in 2009 where the pair were interning at Fendi. Their relationship blossomed and Virgil became creative director for DONDA, the creative agency that produced the artwork for Ye and JAY-Z’s collaborative Watch the Throne album. The artwork picked up a Grammy nomination but was beaten by Caroline Robert’s artwork for Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs deluxe edition.
September 2013: Virgil co-directs ASAP Rocky’s Fashion Killa music video
Virgil’s music video directorial debut came with ASAP Rocky’s Fashion Killa in late 2013 and featured an appearance from Rihanna. This was a significant step for the designer as he would go on to direct other major videos like Lil Uzi Vert’s XO Tour Life, and eventually establish the Off-White™ International Rap Video Production Studio in March 2020. The brand’s first project was the video for Pop Smoke and Quavo’s collaboration Shake the Room.
June 2018: Playboi Carti, Kid Cudi and Dev Hynes model for Virgil’s Luis Vuitton debut
After securing one of the biggest jobs in fashion, the new artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s Menswear put on his first show at the Palais-Royale Garden in Paris. Virgil invited a string of rappers to walk down the runway; Playboi Carti, Steve Lacy, ASAP Nast, Dev Hynes and Kid Cudi all featured in the LV Men’s Spring-Summer 2019 show, soundtracked by BadBadNotGood covering Kanye West’s Ghost Town. Landmark moment for the designer.
July 2018: ORVANGE released, Virgil’s first EP
Virgil’s first EP came in the form of ORVNGE and was in collaboration with Berlin-based producer Boys Noize. The three-track project is ready-made for Berghain or another techno club in Berlin and was created during a “live jam” in Boys Noize’s studio.
“I have a lot of drum machines and synthesizers,” he told Complex, “and I was just showing him some stuff. He was playing around with the drum machine, and he started making a drum pattern with it. We both were already headbanging to it. We basically had a live jam. It sounds a little cheesy, but we really liked playing around with all the machines at the same time. We had this rhythm going.”
July 2019: Starts DJ residency at XS Nightclub in Las Vegas
Despite having one of the busiest schedules on the planet, Virgil still managed to squeeze in a DJ residency at XS Nightclub in Vegas in 2019. By this time Virgil was no stranger to playing big crowds after having previously opened for Travis Scott in 2017 and played sets at Camp Flog Gnaw and Astroworld a year later.