Australian fashion industry mourns the death of Louis Vuitton designer Virgil Abloh
Virgil Abloh, a leading fashion designer, is being remembered by people who knew him and others who didn’t but we’re inspired by who he was and what he represented.
Abloh, Louis Vuitton’s menswear designer, died of cardiac angiosarcoma, an aggressive and uncommon form of cancer. He was 41 years old.
Sammy Benbow, the Australian founder and art director of Le Prime Apparel, told the ABC that Abloh broke down barriers and destroyed preconceptions of how things should be done, opening the way for designers like him.
He was taken aback by the news of Abloh’s death and reflected on his legacy.
“He was a man with a passion and a drive … and I know he’s done a lot. And I know he didn’t stop,” Benbow said.
“He was a person who inspired me to keep going, even if things are bad, or they’re not going your way.”
Benbow became interested in Abloh’s work approximately six years ago, saying that Abloh “broke the norm” and “went into a lot of locations people wouldn’t anticipate him to be in.”
Abloh’s accomplishments were numerous. He was Louis Vuitton’s first Black artistic director, and he received a Grammy nomination for his work on Kanye West and Jay-2011 Z’s album Watch the Throne.
He also established Off-White, which has been defined as defining the grey space between black and white and putting a perspective on high fashion.
Benbow also stated that he built a name for himself in the digital realm.
“Virgil was one of the first successful people to build a brand mostly on social media,” Benbow said.
“It pushed me as a person of colour to be more open and build connections, and also learn about the world and other cultures as a creative.”
Benbow founded his company in the Blue Mountains before relocating to Marrickville in Sydney’s inner west. His designs are inspired by his South African origin and Australian upbringing, despite the fact that he was born in Lesotho.
He aims to incorporate bright colours and African patterns into Western designs.
“I’m someone who lives in both worlds,” he explained.
“As a result, I want individuals who are not from South Africa or Lesotho, where I was born, to be interested in and comfortable with the colours and patterns from that country, and vice versa.”
According to him, Abloh set the path for others.
“He meant a lot to a lot of people.”
“He seemed to people of colour as a figure of no fear, power, and desire… He opened the door for those who may have been afraid that they couldn’t do certain things or go to particular locations. He was nothing more than a symbol of bravery.”
Alison Veness is the Visual Director of Vogue Australia and the Editor of 10 Magazine Australia.
She knew Abloh and was both startled and heartbroken by his death.
“I knew dad hadn’t been feeling well for a few years, but I had no idea the degree of his condition and how terrible it was,” she explained.
Ms Veness told the ABC that the whole fashion business internationally, as well as those locally who had met him or knew his work, was grieving his death.
She stated that Abloh aided others throughout the industry, notably Black entrepreneurs in the United States and around the world.
“He was a generous guy, and above all, he used his new-found money, as well as his position and influence, to good purpose.”
“He was continually assisting people… but he did it softly. He didn’t make his charitable contributions public. He merely went about his business discreetly.”
Ms Veness stated that Abloh’s success was due to his dedication and willingness to listen to others.
“He listened to what the kids wanted,” she remarked.
“He was really tuned in to his own environment and what people could want. And he brought something unique to the table in the form of his ingenuity. That is why he has been successful.”
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