Late designer Virgil Abloh was saluted for his influence and creativity at The Fashion Awards 2021.
Actor Idris Elba took the stage just ahead of the event with a special tribute Monday, stating, "I lost a friend, his wife lost a husband, the fashion industry lost a legend, and the world lost a special human being."
He remembered Abloh as "one of the few people I could have a conversation [with] about multitasking," adding, "But he didn't do it for the fame or the money, he did it to inspire others."
He recited the poem "When Great Trees Fall" by Maya Angelou and concluded, "Those who know Virgil know he would want us to have a good time. Tonight's entire show is dedicated to Virgil Abloh's life."
Abloh was also one of 15 designers, brands, creatives, and individuals recognized as leaders of change at The Fashion Awards 2021. The event acknowledged Abloh and other fashion icons like Stella McCartney and Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele for their influence in helping the environment, people, and creativity over the past year.
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The honor comes one day after Abloh's family announced his passing on Instagram Sunday.
"We are devastated to announce the passing of our beloved Virgil Abloh, a fiercely devoted father, husband, son, brother, and friend. He is survived by his loving wife Shannon Abloh, his children Lowe Abloh and Grey Abloh, his sister Edwina Abloh, his parents Nee and Eunice Abloh, and numerous dear friends and colleagues," the post read.
The statement revealed that Abloh "valiantly battled a rare, aggressive form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma" after deciding "to endure his battle privately since his diagnosis in 2019."
Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty
The statement said that he suffered "numerous challenging treatments, all while helming several significant institutions that span fashion, art, and culture."
"Through it all, his work ethic, infinite curiosity, and optimism never wavered. Virgil was driven by his dedication to his craft and to his mission to open doors for others and create pathways for greater equality in art and design," his family added. "He often said, 'Everything I do is for the 17-year-old version of myself,' believing deeply in the power of art to inspire future generations."
His close friend, Grammy-winning rapper Kanye West, dedicated his Sunday Service to Abloh just hours later.
"In loving memory of Virgil Abloh, the creative director of Donda," West, 44, wrote in a message that remained on the site after the event.
During the service, West's choir performed a revised version of Adele's latest single "Easy on Me" from her new album 30.
For the first verse, the choir delivered a modified set of lyrics. "I know your love flows like a river, and I could wash myself in it forever," they sang. "I know there is hope in these waters, but I can't bring myself to swim when I am drowning in my sin."
The chorus was changed to: "Go easy on me, father. I am still your child, and I need a chance to feel your love around."
Kim Kardashian West also grieved the loss on Instagram Tuesday. She captioned a carousel of special memories, "God doesn't make mistakes. I know that but I still can't help but ask why. Why Virgil?! Why him so soon? it's simply hard to understand why. I have a hard time understanding why so many pure souls were taken away so early."
She added that Abloh was "always so gentle, kind and calm" and "somehow made time for everyone."
"We also talked about your superpower of calmness often," Kardashian West continued. "You always gave so much of yourself to the world because you wanted it to be doper. This one is hard to process. I can't even believe I am writing this… We will miss you so much Virgil and love you so much."
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She ended by sending "so much love" to Abloh's wife Shannon and their children, Lowe and Grey. "Because you loved and supported Virgil the way that you did, he was able to give so much of himself everyone else," she wrote. "So thank you truly for sharing him with us the way that you did. Virgil's legacy will live on forever through Shannon, Lowe and Grey. 🕊"