Kanye West paid tribute to his late friend, the pioneering designer Virgil Abloh, by dedicating the newest chapter of his Sunday Service series to the cultural icon, with tributes pouring in from all across the music and fashion worlds.
Abloh, the renowned Louis Vuitton menswear designer, founder of the haute-streetwear label Off-White, and prolific DJ, died on Sunday at the age of 41 after a quiet two-year struggle with cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare illness.
Virgil Abloh, the artistic director of Louis Vuitton and the founder of Off-White, died of cancer at the age of 41.
West, now known as Ye, was a longtime collaborator of the legendary artist, who also acted as creative director for the rapper’s design firm Donda. He was also responsible for West’s album cover conceptions for “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” and “Yeezus.”
After West signed a sneaker deal with Louis Vuitton in 2009, their collaboration took Abloh to Paris. During fashion week, a photo of the two outside a show went viral, and they made headlines. Abloh later told GQ that it was that early presence that put streetwear on the radar of the mainstream design brands.
West’s ensemble choir sang a touching rendition of Adele’s “Easy on Me,” the single from her latest album, “30,” in his honour shortly after word of Abloh’s death came on Sunday. During a livestream of the service, the statement “IN LOVING MEMORY OF VIRGIL ABLOH, THE CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF DONDA” emerged on the screen.
The uplifting cover was one of several tributes to the visionary designer from singers, celebrities, reality stars, and editors, whose work re-imagined the meaning of fashion and how clothes transmit identity in an industry known for its lack of diversity.
On his Instagram post, American singer-songwriter Frank Ocean paid tribute to Abloh, calling him “a hero” and claiming that the designer had encouraged his late brother, Ryan Moore, who died in a car accident last year, to pursue a career in fashion.
Ocean recalls asking Abloh how he was able to handle his demanding profession while still responding to text messages “with joy and emojis and encouragement and seemingly.. with ease” in 2018, praising him as an influence who “was interested in living and living to the utmost extent.”
“My family was as proud of you as if you were one of our own,” he continued.