America has been through many unsettling times. As we get to celebrate the equality work of Martin Luther King Jr. today, I think of how many years and how much work it took for us to have this holiday. I also think of Dr. King's impact on all of our lives in the word. I am thankful for the opportunity that I have to be an artist and entrepreneur in America because of his service. The freedom to make innovative and architectural leather forms of wearable art is not taken lightly. Amber Poitier is a leather accessories company that was born out of passion, but also as result of fatigue of being the "first" or "only" at many business tables early in my career. I have a deep level of respect for the obstacles that Virgil may have endured during his assent to his prestigious position at LVMH.
Virgil Abloh was also a beneficiary of Dr 'King's service. In 2018, Virgil became the Creative Director of the Menswear for Louis Vuitton. Prior to this prestigious position, he was a trained Civil Engineer, and Architect. He was also a DJ, Record Producer, Composer, Stylist and Entrepreneur. The fact that he was able to hold all of these positions can be traced to the freedoms that Dr King fought for.
Virgil was born in Rockford, Illinois on September 30th, 1980 to Ghanian parents. I imagine that he obtained his Bachelor's in Civil Engineering and his Master's degree in Architecture because he had a love for structure, design and to please his parents. Virgil are both first generation creatives and as it was hard for me to lay out an argument to my parents for me to obtain a degree in Fashion. Immigrants of color did not typically value the creative sector. I imagine that Virgil's love for fashion was a desire that had to be suffocated until he completed his traditional education. In 2009, he interned at Fendi and like that his fashion career began.
In 2013, Off-White was founded and his success paved the way for his final position in life as the Menswear Creative Director for Louis Vuitton. Virgil was managing many brands before his untimely death. On November 28th in 2021, Virgil lost his battle with Cancer. The "Fashion World" was devastated because he just got started and had such a promising future. He was the first African-American designer to have reached his level for such a well known luxury brand. Below you will see some of his samples on display at the Brooklyn Museum exhibit called "Figure of Speech".
His methodical way of working was heavily influenced by his traditional education and experience as an Architect.
Virgil's vision has bridged many cultures. His last show was a beautiful sight to see. I particularly loved how he showcased variation of color in a beautiful way and invited many cultures to join in on the celebration.
I thank Virgil and Dr. King Jr. for not being selfish and hiding their talents and abilities. It takes a large amount of courage to go "against the grain" and follow your passion in life. Being the first comes with a lot of "highs", in front of the camera and "lows" (whether personal or the weight of the culture) behind closed doors. Dr. King did not sign up to be a mortar. However, both of their work has changed the global culture and has certainly made my creative dreams a slightly smoother road.
Virgil was a Dream Realized.