It doesn’t take long to identify the points where Virgil Abloh and Disney might have crossed over. Both shared a long-standing fascination with—and a delight in becoming a part of—the fabric of popular culture, while also celebrating the fruitful possibilities of collaborating across disciplines. But perhaps most important of all, the late designer, architect, and DJ, like the entertainment behemoth, was concerned with encouraging his fans and followers to expand the limits of their imagination. Put more simply, helping people dream big.
It’s these principles which encouraged the team behind Virgil Abloh Securities, the corporation established by Abloh’s wife Shannon in 2022 to unite his various projects and enterprises and keep his creative flame alive, to enter a partnership with Disney that same year. “Virgil’s core philosophies were creativity, community, and empowerment,” says Athiththan “Athi” Selvendran, Abloh’s long-time right-hand man, and now a key figure within Securities. “Virgil was the ultimate creative, always learning and finding new ways to view something, and he was the ultimate collaborator. He inspired everyone he met to dream bigger and go after those dreams, so we’re trying to keep those ideas at the center of all the work we do.”
This week, Disney and Virgil Abloh Securities will unveil a new chapter in their partnership: a six-foot-tall sculpture situated at the heart of London’s Royal College of Art. The legendary creative institution named Abloh as an honorary visiting professor in 2020, and more recently announced a scholarship in Abloh’s name, dedicated to encouraging Black British students from lower-income backgrounds to pursue an arts education. “It supports remarkably talented Black British students, giving them opportunities and access to a space for them to grow,” Selvendran adds. “The RCA felt like the perfect place to engage with up-and-coming talent, university students, and the wider creative community in London. It’s a place that was close to Virgil’s heart.”
The end result, open to the public from Friday, is a striking six-foot-tall sculpture of (who else?) Mickey Mouse, designed by the Abloh-founded design practice Alaska Alaska, crafted in Britain, and realized in kaleidoscopic color. Eagle-eyed Virgil fans will note the rainbow as a recurring motif across his work, from the sneakers of his Off-White collaborations with Nike to the breathtaking 200-meter-long carpet that was rolled out across the gardens of the Palais-Royal for his debut Louis Vuitton show in 2018. The lattice-like structure of the sculpture, meanwhile, served as a nod to the gridded metal of his “Framing” furniture line, which was first launched in 2016. “We wanted it not to feel like you’re just a person viewing the work, but that you’re a part of the work itself—creating that connection within that space was super integral,” Selvendran adds.