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Though Virgil Abloh’s credentials as a designer (he’s recently fresh from the release of Off White’s third collection) and a creative director (most notably Kanye West’s long-term advisor) have been well documented, his turn as DJ-come-promoter have been 15 years in the making (“watching DMC battles and invisible Scratch Pickles vs. X-Men battles were my religion…”). Despite the lengthy build-up, this feels like just the beginning for Virgil Abloh’s Flat White, an international grade of party.
“A Flat White session is just a vibe. It’s totally room and city dependent. My main goal is to get people to lose themselves and also remind them why they left the house and love music,” says Virgil from some worldwide location (it’s a tough feat to grab five with one of the busiest men in the industry, whichever industry he’s working in that given moment).
Check his Instagram; dropped between behind-the-scenes shots from fashion shows and design studios are his simplistic flyer designs charting parties in Milan, LA, Toronto and beyond, his guests ranging from Rhianna to Gesaffelstein.
“I have always thought that music is the real test at how fast culture and trends spread around the globe. Flat White has given me an outlet to participate in that instead of just consume good music in a night life setting.”
Returning to London for XOYO Loves, how does the UK’s capital compare to the rest? “For me London is at the epicentre of a creative space. The culture is super layered with history and a real attention to detail as far as local favourite music genres.”
Immersing himself into the London scene, Virgil can often be found on the billings of Benji B’s seminal night Deviation. No doubt, his friendship and admiration for Benji has been a guiding light for Flat White’s conception.
“On record I am a child of Deviation…” says Virgil. “I’ve listened to Benji B for legit 12 years straight, rarely missing a show each week. Coming from the States where music is sort of narrow with limited opportunities of exposure I always felt Deviation and Benji B’s vision was a sort of cheat sheet to real music.”
While London has a notable hold on Virgil’s creative monikers, the same could be said for Paris. Asides from Flat White his DJing has led him to collaborate with Bromance Records affiliate Guillaume Berg under the guise of Paris, IL (formed after a fashion week frustration of the lack of good music). This enterprise more than anywhere shows Virgil at his best, closing the gap between the flashiness of fashion and the dark dance floors of nightclubs.
Multifaceted might not always mean multi-talented but Virgil proves otherwise; be it Off White or Flat White, fashion or music, he exercises intrinsic nature of them: Virgil’s produced the ultimate lifestyle brand (“that’s the aim”). “Djing to me is about making decisions on the fly, I’m always in a creative hyper-drive so djing to me is vital to sort of burn off creative energy and also works as inspiration.”
Forever working on an empire of his own, for Virgil there are no boundaries: “my rule of thumb that got me this far is never say no to a good idea.”