Virgil Abloh, the death at 41 of the genius on a journey between the 17-year-old self and the freedom of children –

Virgil Abloh, the death at 41 of the genius on a journey between the 17-year-old self and the freedom of children –
Virgil Abloh, the death at 41 of the genius on a journey between the 17-year-old self and the freedom of children –

Dj, artist, designer, Louis Vuitton menswear stylist and founder of Off-White, who died Sunday due to a sarcoma, pioneered a new era

The short and extraordinary life of Virgil Abloh, who died Sunday 28 November at the age of 41 due to a tumor, will be remembered, as is obvious and right, for his appointment – which was undoubtedly historic – as creative director of Louis Vuitton menswear, first African American to play that central role in French fashion and global luxury.

There is also a gigantic per, as great as his talent: per it would be unfair and incorrect to remember him mainly for the role – which he had, there is no doubt – as a pioneer.

Abloh was above all the symbol – which he embodied with admirable contempt – of a new world, a young and technological world free from old patterns that was inexorably making its entry into fashion, eclipsing the previous now obsolete one.

Virgil Abloh, entrepreneur and stylist, architect and deejay, stylist and passionate industrial designer – his lectures on the subject, also visible on YouTube, are little jewels of subtlety and sagacity – led the way, the street world of kids who go to school and live halfway in the digital world, in the rarefied air of the luxury of a historic maison, and by extension illuminate the not always glittering world of fashion with this new light.

Vuitton’s spring-summer 2019 campaign, probably the one that represents him best of all, had no models but boys, photographed at school, smiling, with backpacks and phones and sneakers (Abloh, through his entire career culminating in Off-White and Vuitton, was a recognized genius of sports shoes).

Fashion left room, transparently, for life. Bigger, but not by much, than those guys, he was in fact an older brother: like them he would queue in front of the Supreme store for hours, in New York, waiting for the next drop, the release of some new object of the wish.

Like them, he lived inside his phone – my portable office, he admitted as he flashed his iPhone and smiled with Midwestern boyish kindness.
Like them, he instinctively felt, on his skin, the end of a remote and glossy world and the beginning of a new phase, a phase of which he was one of the most visible interpreters.

Criticizing him because he was a deejay was easy, not wrong but ultimately useless: that criticism missed the mark because the youngest (mentally) of all, Karl Lagerfeld, he had already predicted when Virgil was an intern at Fendi (2009) that fashion in the future would have fewer designers and more art directors in charge (and as always the Kaiser had hit the mark).

One of his last appearances was not in the fashion world but, as he liked it, on the street: applaud Christo’s posthumous work, the Arc de Triomphe hidden from our sight, the public art that becomes secret.

In Christo, Abloh saw the embodiment of his theory on the imagination, the continuous dialogue between tourist and purist.
The tourist, in its formulation, an enthusiast, with eyes wide open to the new. The squeezeinstead, an expert who talks to other experts.

Virgil Abloh strenuously resisted this scheme, considering himself a tourist and a purist, a happy visitor to two different worlds, in order to create a more democratically inclusive space of creation.

So, if you cornered him (with kindness, as he treated you), Virgil said that everything he did, he did it for the seventeen year old boy inside him. It was the truth because it was lived in truth rather than in fashion and trends. the nicest way to remember it.

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