Culture

Fans Are Outraged the Grammys Called Virgil Abloh a “Hip-Hop Fashion Designer” During Tribute

During the ‘In Memoriam…’ Grammys tribute, Virgil Abloh was labeled a “Hip Hop Fashion Designer”, which some fans have called dismissive.

Many are saying that the ‘In Memoriam…’ tribute to Virgil Abloh during Sunday’s Grammy Awards was in bad taste. During the segment, Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom Jr., Ben Platt and Rachel Zegler sang in tribute to late-composer Stephen Sondheim while images of artists and music-adjacent creatives flashed behind them. Those honored included Ronnie Spector, DMX, Betty Davis, Lee “Scratch” Perry and Abloh who was described as a “Hip Hop Fashion Designer.”

Some viewers of the 64th Annual Grammy Awards took offense to the label, flocking to social media and saying that Abloh was belittled as being “hip-hop.” While the multi-hyphenate designer did dress the likes of Kanye West, JAY-Z, Pharrell Williams and more during his life, the Recording Academy was criticized for boxing Abloh’s legacy into the “urban” category. Before his untimely death at 41-years-old in November 2021, Abloh was the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection and founder of streetwear brand Off-White, both which had global impact.

According to an announcement made on his Instagram account, Abloh spent the final two years of his life battling a rare cancer called cardiac angiosarcoma. News of his death received an outpour of grief from a mass of entertainers, including Frank Ocean, Drake, and Tyler, the Creator who eulogized the designer at his December funeral held at the Museum Of Contemporary Art in Chicago.

“All these different people, colors, ages, backgrounds, religions, all came for one man and that’s what he did, he brought like the illest people together,” Tyler said. “Like Don said even people I was like ‘ugh.’ But you learn he’s either not that bad or he is a genius at whatever he does. The day after he passed away is when I was gonna send him an invite and I was so excited for him to see it. I was really excited for him to see that for real.”

Read responses from Grammy viewers below.

Jaelani Turner-Williams

Jaelani Turner-Williams is a contributing news writer for Okayplayer with bylines at Billboard, MTV News, NYLON, Recording Academy and more. Read her mind on Twitter at @hernameisjae.

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