Virgil Abloh started off the week in London, where he managed to beat out both Vetements and Supreme in the Urban Luxe Brand category with his label Off-White at the British Fashion Awards, joining his hero Raf Simons—who once dismissed his designs as "unoriginal"—in the evening's award winners. That was on Monday, but fast-forward about 24 hours, and the designer-DJ-multitasker extraordinaire was already in Miami Beach for Art Basel, where he first hit the opening of Prada's pop-up nightclub before playing so many DJ sets over the next few days that he's lost count, culminating on Friday, when he performed at Marriott's party for its Storybooked series, and also a party for the Surf Lodge's pop-up where he was joined on stage by 2 Chainz. One he definitely remembers, though, was a night with Drake for which the pair also designed an army of artsy drones. But soon it was on to an event with Beats by Dre—yet another set at a party, this time in collaboration with Dial Up, a new project Abloh started with his friend Pedro Cavaliere to give a "new draw to nightlife." (Partiers have to call up a number in order to find out information about the party and RSVP.)
Even though he also once set up a number with a voicemail of himself explaining one of his Off-White collections, Abloh, for the record, isn't much of a phone talker himself. "I try to talk on the phone as little as possible," he said from the device he's nonetheless glued to at all times, as he made more than clear in his culture diet. He talks everything from his latest collaboration with the artist Jenny Holzer to benefit Planned Parenthood—which, yep, he somehow also launched this week—to his movie- and book-free lifestyle, here.
How did you end up designing drones with Drake?
We were going to do a performance together, and you know, for me, Art Basel Miami is a merger of a lot different creative disciplines at once and about all the interactions around that. So me and Drake, from the generation we are, were looking to make things interesting and decided to add an art element and overall art direction to the performance. We actually composed it weeks prior.
What have been your go-to songs since you've been DJing in Miami—and just how many sets have you played so far?
I don’t even know. I lost count, but definitely a handful. I've been playing a lot of Pharrell. To me, it’s a good vibe for Miami.
Getting into the culture diet questions, what's the first thing you read in the morning?
Instagram. No particular accounts—I just follow an insane amount of people. I think I literally follow like 4,000. That's the magic of Instagram, to see not one account in particular.
What books have you been traveling with, or keeping on your bedside table?
You know, I'm usually just on on my phone or in my phone.
What TV show has been keeping you up at night?
Luther on Netflix was probably the last show I watched the most.
Do you ever make it to the movie theater? What's the last movie you saw there?
Nah, my lifestyle doesn’t really account for movies. I can't even remember what I last saw.
What's the last piece of art you bought?
I'm mostly into buying art from friends. I like to keep it vague—just whatever I find intriguing. I'm into buying young artists that I usually collaborate with or are friends of friends. There's this kid named Alec Martin I've liked lately.
Is there anything you've been eyeing at Art Basel?
A few things here and there—I'm still looking. There's a Nicole Wermers piece that I like a lot at Jessica Silverman Gallery that I think is really cool.
What's the last museum or gallery show that you loved?
I try to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. I'm doing a show there in 2019 so I'm there regularly now.
What's the last clothing item you bought?
I was just in Japan, shopping—I got some sort of graphic t-shirt.
Speaking of graphic tees, can you tell me more about your latest collab with Jenny Holzer?
Graphic t-shirts have such an importance and resonance now—it's like wearable art, art that communicates a message in a format that people can understand. We have a great relationship so this just came out of a conversation.
It's pretty amazing that you collaborated so closely earlier this year but only met in person this summer. How did you settle on the word "flowers" to replace "power" in her most famous truism, "Abuse of Power Comes as No Surprise"?
You'd have to speak with Jenny about that, but I don't think she gives interviews. We first connected when I reached out through a mutual contact.
What music have you been keeping on repeat?
Lil Uzi Vert.
What's the last concert you went to, besides one were you performed?
BadBadNotGood in New York.
What's the last thing you googled?
Closest matcha shop to me.....
How do you recover from Art Basel?
A quick trip home, only to take on another packed week.
What's the last thing you do before you go to bed?
Charge my phone.
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