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Samuel Ross: Virgil Abloh breaks 'entry barriers' with joy and optimism

Samuel Ross: Virgil Abloh breaks 'entry barriers' with joy and

Samuel Ross, fashion and product stylist, was Virgil Abloh's first design assistant. Ross writes about the role of the stylist felt as a mentor and how he broke through “entry barriers” with joy and optimism.

Virgil was Ross's first boss. He, according to Ross, was a guiding force for many people around him. Earlier this year, his role as a teacher was further formalized when he was appointed visiting professor at the Royal College of Art in London. Jony Ive, the school's chancellor and legendary Apple student, called Virgil "a real force for change" at the time, adding that "his experience and mentoring will undoubtedly inspire a new generation of creative innovators to understand the value of full of their potential. "Experiencing this power first hand, I'm sure he would have done it," says Ross.

Samuel Ross: Virgil Abloh breaks 'entry barriers' with joy and

In 2018, Virgil made his debut as the newly appointed head of menswear for Louis Vuitton. He was the first American of color to hold such a position in a French luxury home and this moment was extremely important.

"His position at Louis Vuitton signaled opportunity and hope for many people who could and do not see themselves in such a role," Ross told Abloh.

"Much has been written about Virgil's influence in the world of design, fashion and music - his legacy will be rich and layered, no doubt. But he will also be remembered for his ability to help others visualize their success, to imagine their abilities, to make a difference. He did this by being visible, connected, and attainable — breaking down all barriers to entry into a world that is not always welcoming, and in doing so, he created opportunities for those who might have been excluded before.

Abloh, head of menswear for Louis Vuitton, founder of Off-White and a recently appointed professor at the Royal College of Art, died of a rare form of cancer on November 28, 2021. He was 41 years old.