The news of visionary designer Virgil Abloh's passing on Sunday, has sent shockwaves throughout the fashion and creative communities. The Louis Vuitton men’s creative director and Off-White founder had been battling cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare form of cancer since 2019. EBONY gathered reflections from industry insiders and thought-leaders, on the lasting legacy of one of fashion’s most influential and impactful designers.

”Virgil Abloh changed the fashion industry. Famously prolific, he always worked for a greater cause than his own illustrious career: to open the door to art and fashion for future generations, so that they - unlike himself - would grow up in a creative world with people to mirror themselves in. Virgil believed that anything was possible for humankind if only we could tear ourselves away from unconscious biases and norms and reassume the imagination we had as children. His achievements won’t just live on. They will continue to evolve because we are only seeing the beginning of his impact on the creative industries and surrounding world. My thoughts are with his family and all those who loved him. Rest in peace, Virgil, a giant among men.”

Edward Enninful, Editor-in-chief, British Vogure and European Editorial Director of Vogue
Edward Enninful, Naomi Campbell and Virgil Abloh. Image: Dave Benett/FFR/Getty Images)

"I can’t believe it, I am in shock. I knew you for twelve years even before me being creative director at Balmain. You always brought so much love, lights, and talent to this world. You are definitely part of the legends of our generation. You will stay forever in our heart and in the history of Fashion for your talent, your vision, and your kindness."

Olivier Rousteing, creative director, Balmain

“Changed the way we dress. I am utterly devastated by Virgil’s untimely passing. My deepest condolences to his family for this immeasurable loss. He gave so much to so many. I am honored to be able to call him a friend. Virgil was one of the first and most active members of @inthe_blk. He shared his knowledge, network, resources, and brotherhood with us all. He will truly be missed forever."

Victor Glemaud, designer, Victor Glemaud

"A great loss…no doubt. He became a great lead horse. I used his public recognition to inspire me to start the all-Black designer's group “Designers Hub” in 2018. Tired of people asking “where are the black Designers”. My slogan became to all, “Because you aren’t Virgil Abloh does not mean you don’t exist.” As he seemed for a moment the only recognizable name in the design of color.Virgil was inspiring and our last conversation was in September.  A wonderful mix of design and engineering made him exceptional showing no task too great to tackle.He will be missed …to set the bar and inspire."

Bethann Hardison, fashion model and activist

“The CFDA mourns the loss of our esteemed member of the board and longtime CFDA designer Virgil Abloh.  Virgil changed the landscape of American fashion with his groundbreaking Off-White label and broke barriers as the first Black artistic director of Louis Vuitton.  We are thinking of his family and friends during this difficult time.”

Tom Ford, Designer and CFDA Chairman

”What a loss—Virgil, your talent and soul will be sorely missed. I count myself so privileged to have met you and to have worn such a beautiful piece by you designed in honor of your grandmother. I knew then I was experiencing the honor of wearing a designer whose work transcends both past and present. To rephrase something you once said, let us paint new pictures where the old ones have been erased. Rest in power king,” 

Amanda Gorman, poet and activist
Virgil Abloh, Djing stage on Day 1 of Parklife festival at Heaton Park. Image: Joseph Okpako/WireImage.

"Mr. Virgil Abloh  “The Consummate Producer.” A kind, loving family man. One of the great artists of our time! Virgil’s impactful body of work, across multiple sectors, presented to the world during a short 12 year period will continue to shape and inspire future generations to come. Blessed to have known you. Sincerest, heartfelt condolences to his family. Rest in eternal peace King."

June Ambrose, stylist

“The loss of Virgil Abloh is sad and heartbreaking.  Virgil was a prophetic cross-genre trailblazer that elevated our culture globally.  Virgil’s barrier-breaking career is an inspiration that will continue to motivate many in the times ahead.  I thank Virgil for being a gifted role model whose mere presence in the highest echelons of fashion was a catalyst that helped propel equity and inclusion in fashion.”

CaSandra Diggs, CFDA President

“Virgil Abloh was a gift to our creative community. He was a bright light that drew us in and lit the way for many to come behind us. The power of the Black vision he gave us transcended industries and will live on eternally in the legions of Black youth he inspired.“

Aurora James, creative director of Brother Vellies

"My heart is broken. Virgil, you were a kind, generous, thoughtful creative genius. Your work as a human and your work as a spiritual being will live forever. Sending love and light to your wife, children, family, and day ones. You’re with the Master now, shine."

Pharrell Williams, musician

Virgil Abloh, Kanye West, Fonzworth Bentley, Don Crawley. Image: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images.

“My plan is to touch the sky 1000 more times for you…love you eternally brother. Thank you for everything”

Drake, rapper

“Virgil inspired an entire generation of creators. He is the true embodiment of innovation and showed me that anything is possible. My African brother, I will greatly miss you.” 

Ugo Mozie, stylist

“RIPVirgil Abloh. I’m so shaken up by news of his passing. Virgil was a complicated figure but a tremendous talent. I remember when we ran an interview w him on Teen Vogue — Teryn Denice wrote & I edited — and it was such a unique, mystifying experience that we speak of it often. Quirks aside (he was a provocateur in design and in real life), there was one clear message he wanted to relay to our readers. As the son of Ghanaian immigrants who became a design giant & director at one of the most storied fashion houses, he wanted to encourage “outsiders” to break into fashion & disrupt it & energize it, just like he had. For all his fame & success, his focus always remained on fashion hopefuls who felt othered, marginalized, and underrepresented. That is his legacy. May he rest in peace.”

Jessica Andrews, Deputy Fashion Editor, Bustle

“Virgil Abloh graced us with courage, incredible creative energy, remarkable and rare cultural genius. His ability to recognize and transform the early ingredients of cultural shifts has changed the fashion and design landscape. We are so fortunate for all he’s contributed.”

Tamu McPherson, CEO, All the Pretty Birds

"Virgil the Visionary. Virgil represented far more than many can comprehend. A visionary that remained connected to his people and dedicated to simply creating and pushing the conversation in a way that only he could. He cared so much for the creative process and was well aware of the position he occupied as a black man as well as the responsibility that came with it. The part that matters most however is the man that fewer got to see experience Virgil the father, the husband, the son, the brother, the friend. Virgil would often pen, 'Virgil Was Here'…However, Virgil Will Always Be Here!"

Zerina Akers, stylist

When I interviewed Virgil in 2019, I asked him what he wanted his legacy to be. He shared with me his vision for creating a body of work that someone else could stand on. To say that he accomplished that is an understatement. His work and accomplishments have uplifted the entire culture in so many ways. He was a symbol of progress when sometimes it felt like the fashion industry was at a standstill. And his rule-breaking, out-of-the-box creations for Off-White and Louis Vuitton are physical reminders to ignore limitations, especially ones that try to pigeonhole us and keep us from expanding. I will forever be grateful for his work and contribution to an industry that I dearly love. He is a legendary icon that will live on forever.” 

Alexis Bennet, E-commerce writer, Vogue
Virgil Abloh and Heron Preston. Image: Pierre Suu for Getty Images

"Virgil existed in a way that challenged the world, even when we challenged him. Virgil was proof that heroes can still exist for us, and I’m glad to have known him. He made me hopeful for the future. It’s that same hope we need to carry our culture forward.”

Antonie Gregory, founder, Black Fashion Fair

"Virgil lives on in ways that will continue revealing themselves for lifetimes to come. It makes me smile to wonder how future generations will discover him, how his legacy will show up in so many lives like a guiding light. I think of him like a planet, a complicated ecosystem of disparate elements that coalesced over his short time here into something so permanent that the very foundation of our future in fashion is tied to it. He was immense. And once you entered his atmosphere you experienced the kind of inescapable gravitational pull that one might expect when taste, and knowledge and research and connection and talent and vision and foresight collide. He was stellar. But, really, what he made--who he was--was more like an entire galaxy than a solitary planet. Filled with beautiful minds and ideas orbiting around each other. His world represented an expansiveness that's impossible to comprehend. He was the very embodiment of possibility. The sky was never the limit-- it was just more room to explore. He was limitless."

Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, stylist

"I’m so proud of how much the world showed Virgil he mattered just as much as he made sure he lifted everyone around him. He set unprecedented goals and exceeded everyone’s expectations again and again. To say he was a visionary is an understatement. I am thankful to him for leaving a blueprint showing how fearless you can be with your dreams. Just like there were no limits to his art and creativity, his everlasting impact will be limitless."

Larissa Muehleder, designer, Muehleder

“It was an honor to know and be in your presence Virgil. To work with you and be in your creative world. Thank you for all that you’ve done for the culture. Your legacy will live foreverRest In Peace King Virgil Abloh. My deepest condolences to his wife Shannon and their kids, family and friends. You are in my prayers.”

Adut Akech, model

"Virgil Abloh was a masterclass in innovation. He never kept himself boxed in, which made him a game changer."

Rajni Jacques, Global Head of Fashion of Beauty, Snapchat

”Time: something I wish we had more of. I can’t believe this has happened. You spent so much time helping others, making sure everyone was good. You are one of the most selfless people I’ve ever met. Gonna miss you, bro, this is so devastating I’m at a loss for words. I am so grateful for everything you have done for us all, and for the community you built. Thank you for breaking boundaries and pushing the conversation forward. We can’t stop now. A true pillar of the community. A pioneer. A mentor. A friend. A father. Rest In Peace big bro. Long live Virgil.”

Luka Sabbat, model and actor

”A creator beyond the unthinkable. From dj'ing on the biggest stage to founding his first fashion house, Off-White, and leaving his legacy as Creative Director of menswear at Louis Vuitton, Virgil Abloh had an extraordinary eye to elevate people, fashion, and technology. You will truly be missed. May your soul rest as you gain your wings.”

Charles King, Founder, Macro
Virgil Abloh. Image: Taylor Hill/WireImage for Getty Images

“Rest easy Virgil. I’m fortunate to have known you for many years…even before you’d come to show the world what we all knew. You consistently stayed true to the kind, thoughtful, creative, visionary soul that you ARE. Honored to have worked alongside you. Happy that your legacy, work, disruption, example will FOREVER LIVE ON…continuing to inspire us misfits and weirdos who didn’t believe we could not only sit at the table but completely reinvent it.”

Vashtie Kola, designer, creative director, and multi-disciplinary artist

“Dear V, The impact of your presence in every space you entered was indelible, indescribable, profound. You understood that influence and leveraged it, incredibly, in the most powerful ways. You always led with kindness, joy, generosity, truth, SPIRIT. You were always a few steps ahead but never ever forget to reach back. You forever changed the way we thought about ourselves, you altered the realm of what was possible for kids that looked like us, thought like us, felt like us. You were a truly great visionary in every sense of the word and an even greater human being. You were just different. You cared so deeply, loved so hard, gave so freely, so tirelessly of yourself. You would say to me, 'Kids like us never get tired.' You certainly never did. Even if you did, you never showed it. You knew that an entire generation was inspired to work harder, be better and do more because of your seemingly infinite energy. Now it is your time to rest King. We will make sure that you live on through all of us. So much love always.”

Carlos Nazario, stylist and global fashion director, i-D

“What Virgil achieved in his life represents hope to so many Black designers of what’s possible. His very being translated as unlimited possibilities as he climbed heights that were seemingly out of reach for black designers. His passing is devastating, but the hope his life birthed for so many of us will live on.”

Brandice N. Daniel, CEO and Founder of Harlem's Fashion Row

“Virgil was fire, the most supportive legend. He showed me so much love and was someone I was blessed to call a friend. I will never forget how hyped I would get after we spoke or when he would send me an encouraging message after a red carpet moment. My first MET GALA was with @off____white when he was just appointed at LV, I was so scared to ask for this custom look but with the swiftness, he said yes. Thank you. I’ll forever cherish that DM I got from you a few weeks ago after I shared my film and the fact that you reposted it (he ain’t even have to do all that!)… but he did… a whole gem. I’m so happy I had the chance to tell you what you meant to me and so many creatives in this industry. Thank you for shifting the game. Gone but never forgotten we love you.”

Ade Samuel, stylist

”VIRGIL, you’ve done everything to my heart, filled it with joy, momentum, doubt, possibility, hope. You are the catalyst for change and the literal trailblazer of this generation of African-American designers. Now my heart is broken knowing that I’ll never get a chance to meet you and know the man you are or were. But King, your legacy will continue through me, through us, through the culture that you EMPOWERED whether we liked it or not. You are immortal! Thank you so much for being, for fighting, for demanding, for representing, for experimenting, for opening these doors. You turned a dream into a reality so that we could know that it’s what makes life worth living.” 

Donte Livingston, designer, Luxe Livingston


Virgil Abloh. Image: Getty Images/Getty Images for Client

“The love you put into your work will continue to move creativity forward and inspire us all. May you rest.”

Kenneth Nicholson, designer

“There’s not enough words to say THANK YOU for what you’ve done for US but especially for a Black kid like me. As a young black designer and creative you were OUR guy. A real-life Superhero that showed us ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE! THANK YOU, BRO. You did it like no other!”

Gavin Mathieu, designer, Supervsn

“You can do it  too..” This is the caption of Virgil's first post after his debut LV show. This is what Virgil symbolized, the undeniable belief that we can all sore to our wildest dreams and beyond. He believed that there was “room” in every room, even if he had to put the seats at the table himself. Virgil created from the place in all of us that dares to dream, to innovate, to connect, and to change the culture for the better. He will be remembered not only his genius, but for the kindness of his heart and it’s impacted on so many lives.”

Terry Long, pr director, R13

“We will continue to see the impact of Virgil Abloh in nearly every creative industry for generations to come. Grit, poise and compassion… a rhizomatic mind with the audacity to make his wildest dreams a reality.”

Kimberly Drew, art curator 

“Virgil is a blessing. Virgil is light. Virgil is Fam. He was one of the realest people I know. I think he did more for people and this industry behind the scenes than anyone will ever know. He moved so fast, was so creative, hardworking, innovating, encouraging, and never hesitated to rise to a challenge… and to actively move a project forward. Working with him… you quickly realize he’s a genius. And yet so humble and gracious. If you give him a compliment, he would spin it around and use it as an opportunity to build you up and help you rise. He believed in community and creating space for his peers and for the next generation and was an active change-maker and game-changer. Virgil was and is a giant. I don’t even think we can yet begin to know the impact of his work, his vision, and his legacy. Virgil planted the seeds in so many of us and broke so many doors down and have us the blueprint. I am so honored and grateful that I got to know him and to work with him and to be his friend. I am truly devastated by his passing. My heart goes out to his family, his loved ones, and all the lives that he touched. Rest in power.”

Abrima Erwiah, Co-founder of Studio One Eighty-Nine

Virgil Abloh. Image: Marc Piasecki/GC Images for Getty Images

“Virgil Abloh was a visionary and what he showed me is that if I could see it happen, I would believe in it and know it could happen for me.  Watching him step into his own purpose and creativity was inspiring for so many of us in the industry.  As a black woman in fashion, I felt such pride watching his first show for Louis Vuitton.  I will always remember that day when he was appointed as Creative Director.  I felt like his win was a win for us all.  His endless efforts to get more black people in the industry and be seen and heard will never be forgotten. May he rest in peace.”

Sherri McMullen, founder, Shop McMullen

“Virgil Abloh was a superhero. He was a rare awe-inspiring breed full of curiosity and most importantly kindness. Everyone knew or wanted to know Virgil, and Virgil wanted to know everyone. Virgil saw me, but most importantly he saw us. He always knew through visibility and his carefully persistent work contributions that he would not only be in the position to support and uplift communities that did not have the possibility to uplift themselves, but he would physically help these communities build for the future. His creative process was as frenetic and it was full of passion and defiance. Virgil did it his way and it was a joy to be able to closely watch him create a new blueprint for future generations. I am humbled and thankful for our collaborations, but most importantly I will always remember Virgil Abloh as a disrupter full of humility and honesty. I thank him for his friendship and trust.”

Edward Buchanan, Head Designer, Off-White

"Virgil was a great one in the canon of historical fashion design. He is what happens when the human meets the moment. As a Black man carrying a generation’s hopes, dreams, and needs on his shoulders, he met the moment with grace and kindness at the forefront. We are all better because Virgil Abloh was and forever will be. As M.J. said, '…to escape death I attempt to bind my soul to my work.'”

Charles Harbison, designer, HARBISON Studio

"While I didn’t know Virgil personally, we all felt his impact. He created a life that reverberated and caused a shift in culture. Because of him, those that look like me can navigate spaces where we historically have not been welcomed. A prime example of a life lived with purpose and time never wasted."

Bradley Jacobs, pr manager, Calvin Klein
Kanye West and Virgil Abloh. Image: Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images.