Louis Vuitton designer Virgil Abloh’s charisma goes beyond luxury

FILE PHOTO: Designer Virgil Abloh appears with model Gigi Hadid at the end of the Spring/Summer 2020 collection show for his Off-White label during Men's Fashion Week in Paris, France
FILE PHOTO: Designer Virgil Abloh appears with model Gigi Hadid at the end of the Spring/Summer 2020 collection show for his Off-White label during Men’s Fashion Week in Paris, France, May 19 June 2019. REUTERS / Charles Platiau

December 3, 2021

By Mimosa Spencer

PARIS (Reuters) – It was “a kid in a candy store” moment for Billie Essco when he found himself in a cavernous space beneath the Louvre Museum last January, backstage ahead of a show for the luxury streetwear label Off- by fashion designer Virgil Abloh. White.

Essco, a 31-year-old black American artist, musician, and clothing designer from Buffalo, New York, made the last-minute decision when he and his friend, rapper Westside Gunn, took a trip to Paris in the hope of sneaking into a fashion show. Week.

He could never have dreamed of hanging out with Abloh nL8N2SJ0KO, who in addition to his role as the founder of Off-White, is also the designer of menswear for Louis Vuitton – the world’s largest owned luxury brand. by French giant LVMH.

Essco, also known as Uptown Chase, said: “I’ve been conveying this man, his energy and his design for the past five years and now I’m here to see things the world hasn’t seen before. see,” said Essco, also known as Uptown Chase.

“Fashion is a discreet, niche thing, it’s an insider thing, ‘if you know it you know’ – I believe Virgil opened the door for people like me to come into this community.”

Abloh, fashion’s most famous black designer, passed away Sunday at the age of 41 after a private battle with a rare cancer. In July, he was promoted to work on 75 brands of LVMH.

Fellow creative directors at rival groups, from Gucci’s Alessandro Michele to Donatella Versace, have praised his vision. An nL1N2SL3V8 runway show in tribute to his final collection, held in Miami on Tuesday, drew a celebrity crowd that included his longtime friend, musician and house artist. fashion designer Ye – formerly known as Kanye West – and LVMH’s billionaire boss, Bernard Arnault.

But for the likes of Essco, teenagers skateboarding in his home city of Chicago and orphaned West African refugees in Paris play for a French amateur team in a T-shirt designed by Abloh His name and influence have resonated far beyond the traditional, rare world of luxury. .


A first-generation Ghanaian-American, Abloh – who also works as a DJ and visual artist – is not a trained designer. He often says that he is inspired by what he sees on the street.

Essco, who studied fashion design at Buffalo State College, has followed Abloh’s growth over the years and appreciates how he blends hip-hop and fashion cultures, breaking boundaries world at a time when the style was mostly clean and traditional, and lacked “spark and flair”.

Abloh’s early work applying large print logos to Ralph Lauren’s flannel shirts resonated with Essco, who at the time was experimenting with screen printing on apparel sourced from boutiques. old local. Then, after founding Off-White, the designer retweeted an image of a model wearing a hoodie that Essco had styled on Instagram.

“I realized myself through watching him as a person, and as a man it just taught me that I am not crazy and that I can be exactly who I am. want – I may be anonymous, but go to college,” Essco said.

He describes Abloh’s approach as “creating a space where you can all be in the room instead of having to choose a side – because we come from a place where you choose to do one thing and that’s it.” it, you have to stick with it”.

During a trip to Paris in January 2020, Abloh asked Gunn and Essco to attend his brand’s catwalk show, following parties and the highly coveted Louis Vuitton show.

“Not only to see what kind of person he is, but how similar to my friends, and to myself, I thought, ah, we can do this – not only can we. could do this, but in the end, it was done,” he said.

(edited by Silvia Aloisi and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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Caroline Bleakley

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