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‘We Lost a Real Life Superhero’: Ronnie Fieg, Jerry Lorenzo, Phillip Lim & More Give Emotional Tributes to Virgil Abloh at the 2021 FNAAs

“We lost a real life superhero.”

At the 35th annual Footwear News Achievement Awards on Tuesday night, Person of the Year Ronnie Fieg was just one of the honorees and presenters who paid tribute to their late friend Virgil Abloh, the fashion legend who inspired so many FNAA winners past and present. Jerry Lorenzo, Jim Moore and Phillip Lim also opened up about Abloh’s incredible legacy.

Fieg — wearing his own personalized version of Abloh’s Air Jordan 1 from “The Ten” collection (the style won Shoe of the Year in 2017) — said on the red carpet that his big awards moment, which came two days after Abloh’s death, was bittersweet. “Virgil is the person of the year, every year. To do as much as he’s done and still be the kindest and nicest person I ever met really inspires me to be a better person. For him, his number one goal was to inspire youth. He made [starting a business] accessible for everyone. that needs to live with us forever.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 30: (L-R) Designer, Kith, Ronnie Fieg and Shir Yaakov, shoe detail, attend the 35th Annual Footwear News Achievement Awards on November 30, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Footwear News)
“Virgil Was Here”: Person of the Year Ronnie Fieg wears his custom Air Jordan 1 kicks from Abloh’s “The Ten” collection.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Footwear News

Later, in his acceptance speech, Fieg told the crowd that Abloh showed the word if you dare to dream, dreams those dreams can come true. “No matter how larger than life he became, he was still the same. He somehow always knew what you were working on, and was always rooting for you to succeed. I, like many, will miss him more than words can express, but I hope to honor his legacy while he watches us from above.”

Jim Moore, the GQ creative director who teamed up with Fat Joe to present Fieg with his award, also talked about the lessons learned from the astounding success of both Abloh and Fieg. “If Virgil and Ronnie teach us anything, is that a dream realized by many, not few, is worth chasing, and we need to chase the dreams now, not tomorrow.”

Designer of the Year Jerry Lorenzo has been chasing his own big dreams, thanks to some major encouragement from Abloh.

“I love you, man,” Lorenzo told the crowd in his video acceptance. “Thank you for opening up the mental barriers of my mind about what was possible for my life, man. Thank you for living the life that…the life example, in and of itself, has opened up doors for so many that look like you and I. I appreciate you, I love you, I honor you. Rest In Peace, my man. Take care, everybody.”

jerry lorenzo, fnaa
Jerry Lorenzo dedicated his Designer of the Year award to Virgil Abloh.
CREDIT: Courtesy Image

Abloh opened the door for Lorenzo and so many of today’s great talents, and he was also forging ahead with big plans to support the next generation.

Amid the social justice movement of 2020, Abloh raised more than $1 million for scholarships aimed for Black fashion students, and also introduced his own mentorship program, “Free Game,” which provides step-by-step instruction for young fashion entrepreneurs to start their own brand.

Phillip Lim — who took home the influential Social Impact Award for his ardent support of the Asian community — talked about the power of community and how Abloh instilled that in him.

“To quote a late friend Virgil Abloh, ‘My only faith in fashion is that collectively we can kick a dent in racism from all sides.’ So please, friends and family, please continue to give a fuck. Only together, we can kick a permanent dent in hate space.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 30: Designer, Phillip Lim attends the 35th Annual Footwear News Achievement Awards on November 30, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Footwear News)
Phillip Lim made an inspiring speech about the power of community when it comes to fighting racism. 
CREDIT: Courtesy of Footwear News

For more from the 2021 FNAAs, click through the gallery.

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