Virgil Abloh Had A Bang Up Year

Illustration by Will Godwin

December 11 2017

Even in a string of banner years, Virgil Abloh’s 2017 was pretty exceptional. His label OFF–WHITE swept the British Fashion Awards, he worked on a project with Jenny Holzer to benefit Planned Parenthood, and among many other memorable performances, he blinged out some serious drones with Drake and DJ’d more parties than anyone else at this year’s Design Miami. As a high-five to Virgil, we revisit our interview with him from a far simpler time, fall 2015, in Human Being Journal’s “Supreme Love” issue.

Human Being Journal 7: 

Virgil is the image machine behind the image machine at the center of what will doubtless go down as this decade’s biggest pop culture phenomenon: the West-Kardashian-Jenner chain that is on the cusp of every news cycle. If anyone might be called Kanye’s wingman‚ it is Virgil‚ and he is no doubt the fount that keeps the hip hop artist and ostensible future presidential candidate in the know about the finer things. He tells us he lives and dies by Koolhaas‚ has repeatedly linked himself with that venerable institution of irreverent British design‚ Central Saint Martins‚ and his once dark-horse label‚ Off-White‚ has become a major source of innovation in fashion today.

Not too many people know that you trained as an architect. How do you think that education shaped your practice?

It’s the basis for everything I do. I feel like I found a cheat code to move through other areas of design but it ironically was my plan. You know the days of architecture school when they sort of break you down and tell you that like only 5% of your class will actually one day be practicing architects? I remembered agreeing with them because I wanted to do more.

What living architect do you think is making the best work?

I live and die by Rem Koolhaas. His thought and theory around the built form plus that form itself opened my mind from the very beginning. And the fact that his student center was finished while I was at IIT was super impactful on me‚ design wise.

Fashion is fickle. Where would you like to see Off-White in 10 years?

Yeah‚ the fickleness adds another element to it all that I actually like. In 10 years I hope to be steering a storied fashion house that is modernized.

What’s the difference between music and fashion? Is there a difference? If so‚ what makes them work so well together?

To me‚ music is the speedometer at which fashion trends move. I DJ and love club culture. What people wear to be themselves is super linked to the clothes that they wear.

Do you think‚ more generally‚ that we tend to artificially silo disciplines? Maybe art‚ fashion‚ design‚ music‚ architecture‚ graphics are just one thing…

I totally have a sort of Bauhaus‚ total design streak in my nature. The blanket term “lifestyle” in 2015 is comprised by so many things. Built environment‚ social media‚ entertainment‚ clothing‚ art‚ etc. To me it’s irresponsible to focus on just one silo.

What are you feeling right now in terms of color/texture/silhouette? Your FW collections definitely have a softer‚ earthier feel to them than past seasons and the women’s line feels downright ’70s…

Yeah‚ I blow with the wind. Every season is more like an art installation than a new fashion calendar offering. My muses and friends shape a particular topic I want to explore each season. The ultimate goal is to make collections that are relevant to me and culture at the time.

What’s your favorite city?

Paris is always my first guess.

There’s a lot made about gun violence in your hometown of Chicago. What do you think could be done to improve the situation this generation?

On the news the other day I heard the most genius idea. Mothers are starting to hang out on street corners at night. Human nature says don’t shoot. I was inspired by that whole thought process.

You get to choose the U.S. president next year. Who would it be?

Kanye West.

Tell us something the internets don’t know about Virgil Abloh.

My password for everything social media is “Whiteee123”