Frank Ocean pays moving tribute to Virgil Abloh: ‘My brother really looked up to you’

Off-White creator was hugely influential in the music world

Roisin O'Connor
Monday 29 November 2021 08:49
Virgil Abloh talks about his roots and his early-life passion

Frank Ocean shared a moving tribute to late designer Virgil Abloh, who has died aged 41 from cancer.

The music and fashion worlds have been mourning the loss of the Off-White creator and artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear line, following the news of his death on Sunday 28 November. Abloh had kept his diagnosis private for several years.

Abloh was known for bringing fashion and music together, collaborating with a number of major artists including Kanye West, Drake and A$AP Rocky. Many more cited him and his creative outlook as a major influence on their own work.

“In 2018, I believe it was, I called V and asked him how it was possible to play hundreds of shows a year and do numerous fashion collections a year and be a father and a husband and return EVERYONE’s texts with enthusiasm and emojis and encouragement and seemingly.. with ease,” Ocean wrote in an Instagram story.

“I cannot remember how he responded verbatim but I’m sure it was quotable whatever he said,” he continued. “He was always quotable. But the gist of his response was that he was interested in living and living to the maximum extent of his level… which proved to be Impossible today because he was BEYOND.”

Frank Ocean (left, blue jacket) in the front row with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian at a 2016 Off-White show, Paris Fashion Week

Ocean then recalled Abloh’s relationship with his younger brother Ryan, who was killed in a car crash last year, aged 18.

“When Ryan went to his prom you got him some pieces from your new collection at LV and he was GEEKed. Couldn’t get him to take it off,” he said.

“When my brother passed I never said anything because it was way too much but he loved you and really looked up to you. He was going to fashion school and everything. He wanted to be a designer.”

He concluded: “I know grief is love that you don’t get to express so this is an attempt at expressing it. Love you V. You’re a hero.”

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Other artists including Pharrell, Drake, AJ Tracey and Idris Elba have been paying tribute to Abloh, and sharing their memories of him.

“My plan is to touch the sky 1000 more times for you… love you eternally brother. Thank you for everything,” Drake wrote in a post on Instagram.

A statement posted from Abloh’s own Instagram account said that throughout his illness, his “work ethic, infinite curiosity and optimism” never wavered. It said he was driven by “his dedication to his craft... his mission to open doors for others and create pathways for greater equality in art and design”.

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