In new documentary, Virgil Abloh’s closest aides pay tribute to his powerful legacy
In one of the first scenes of Mahfuz Sultan and Chloe Wayne Sultan’s new documentary for vogue on the legacy of Virgil Abloh, titled simply V, as the designer and polymath creator was known among his friends, we see one of Abloh’s best friends, vintage car dealer Arthur Kar, driving a familiar route around Paris. On any day in Paris, Abloh could likely be found in the passenger seat with Kar listening to hip-hop as the two drifted in and out of conversation, or Abloh working on his phone. “He just wanted to enjoy the music and hang out with me,” Kar explains in the film.
For Mahfuz and Chloe, when they started discussing the possibility of making a film about their late friend, it was an opportunity to offer a window into those more everyday moments in Abloh’s life that they found the most fascinating. “Some of them contain Easter eggs for people who knew V, or his community of followers, and one of the things we really wanted to do was touch on his life in Paris,” says Chloe. “Mahfuz came up with the idea of installing the camera in the passenger seat where V would be sitting and we asked Arthur to walk a route that they would often walk together. One of the big questions was: how do we make sure that this person we love so much feels present, even in their absence?How do we ask everyone to participate in a way that is personal to them, or to their relationship with V?
To do so, the duo set up shop for two days at the Hôtel Costes – an Abloh favorite that often served as their center of gravity in Paris – in the midst of Paris Fashion Week in February, inviting a who’s who of collaborators from Abloh to step into some of his most iconic designs for Off-White (all styled by vogueGlobal Fashion Editor Gabriella Karefa-Johnson and sharing memories of their time with Abloh in the City of Lights. These included a handful of his favorite models, including Bella Hadid, Karlie Kloss, Joan Smalls, Alton Mason and Kendall Jenner; a number of his collaborators at Off-White and Louis Vuitton, including his music director Benji B and stylist Ib Kamara; and many who shared a more generally amorphous creative synergy with Abloh, including designer and creative consultant Tremaine Emory, DJ Pedro Cavaliere, and poet Kai-Isaiah Jamal, whose tribute lyrics to Abloh serve as the film’s powerful conclusion. .
“We didn’t originally plan for it to be something this big, but it got bigger and bigger as we went along,” says Chloe. “It’s partly because people have just said the most incredible things about their friend, and we wanted that to be recorded. If anyone cares to watch this in 10 years, we were able to collect some of those incredible testimonies of Virgil’s impact and the incredible person he was. For Mahfuz, the format of the film – each speaker is presented without any sort of formal description, and in various locations around the hotel – was also a way to testify to Abloh’s democratic vision. “I think this format also kind of freed us from having to be encyclopaedic,” he adds. “We couldn’t shoot everyone , of course, so there are a lot of close friends and family members who weren’t able to attend. But we never wanted there to be any sort of hierarchy.