Virgil Abloh, artistic director of Louis Vuitton menswear and founder and CEO of fashion house Off-White, has died after private battle with a “rare and aggressive form of cancer,” according to the brands’ social media posts . He was 41 years old.
Abloh, a fashion pioneer and frequent celebrity collaborator, died Sunday after battling cardiac angiosarcoma, which blocks blood flow to the heart, according to a post shared on his verified Instagram account. Louis Vuitton and Off-White have also confirmed his death on their accounts.
“He has chosen to endure his battle in private since his diagnosis in 2019, undergoing many difficult treatments, while leading several important institutions that span fashion, art and culture,” Abloh read on Abloh’s Instagram. .
He was a pioneer in the fashion world, having been the first black artistic director to lead men’s fashion for Louis Vuitton, one of the two people of color in charge of a major fashion house (along with Olivier Rousteing of Balmain) at the time of his appointment. That same year, he was named a winner of the Time 100 Most Influential People.
“Part of my equation is to inspire the next generation and help them think outside the box,” Abloh told Interview magazine in 2018. “When I was young I didn’t know I could show in Paris , because I haven’t seen anyone do that who looked like me. Even when I had just walked into a luxury store, people looked at me like I didn’t belong. ”
“Through it all, his work ethic, endless curiosity and optimism have never wavered,” we read on his Instagram account. “Virgil was motivated by his dedication to his craft and his mission to open doors for others and create pathways for greater equality in art and design. He would often say, ‘Everything I do is for the version of myself at 17, ‘deeply believing in the power of art to inspire future generations.’
Born in Illinois to Ghanaian immigrant parents, Abloh received a civil engineering degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology, the latter of which also sparked his interest in industry. of fashion. He then interned at Fendi with Kanye West, which sparked a long-standing collaboration with the rapper.
Abloh was behind several notable West album covers, including “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” in 2010, “Watch the Throne” in 2011 with Jay-Z and “Yeezus” in 2013. The rapper was in attendance at the Abloh’s first Louis Vuitton show at Paris Fashion Week in 2019, where the two were pictured warmly kissing afterwards.
Music was vital to Abloh’s creative process.
“I can’t work in my studio without music. I don’t like silence.” he said Interview. “I listen to John Coltrane. I listen to Miles Davis. But I also listen to any new rap that comes out this week. I have teams in Milan, Italy, London and America, so as long as I have a iPhone fully charged, I feel like I can change the world. ”
Abloh has made several recent public appearances, including at the Met Gala in September and the Fashion Trust Arabia Prize Gala on November 3.
The fashion world paid tribute to the designer on social media on Sunday.
“We are all shocked after this terrible news,” Louis Vuitton CEO Bernard Arnault said in a statement. declaration on social networks. “Virgil was not only a brilliant designer, a visionary, he was also a man with a beautiful soul and great wisdom.”
Pharrell Williams tweeted that his “The heart is broken”.
“Virgil, you were a kind, generous and thoughtful creative genius, your work as a human and your work as a spiritual being will live on forever,” added Williams. “Send love and light to your wife, your children, your family and the days you are with Master now, shine.”
“Too early Virgil,” Idris Elba tweeted. “This man of the world will miss you.”
Kehlani called for Abloh’s death “shocking.”
“RIP VIRGIL ABLOH,” Jordyn Woods added.
Abloh is survived by his wife, Shannon Abloh, his children, Lowe and Gray Abloh, his sister Edwina Abloh, his parents, Nee and Eunice Abloh, and “many dear friends and colleagues,” according to the post on his Instagram account.