Virgil Abloh, a ‘visionary’ fashion designer, has died at the age of 41

Virgil Abloh, men's artistic director at Louis Vuitton, has died at the age of 41 from a rare form o...

Virgil Abloh, the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection, died of cancer on Sunday at the age of 41, according to LVMH, the fashion and luxury house’s French owner.

Abloh, the American-born son of Ghanaian immigrants who rose to become fashion’s most visible Black designer, had also worked as a DJ and visual artist before joining Vuitton in March 2018. He was also a former collaborator with rapper and fashion designer Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, and founded the Italian luxury streetwear label Off-White, in which LVMH took a 60% stake earlier this year.

“This terrible news has shocked us all,” LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault said in a statement.

“Virgil was not only a brilliant designer and visionary, but also a lovely soul and wise man.”

Abloh and his sister were raised in Rockford, Illinois, after being born in 1980 near Chicago. His mother, Eunice Abloh, a seamstress, taught him the basics of the craft at a young age, according to a 2018 Vogue magazine profile.

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he earned a master’s degree in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

By 2010, Abloh was working as creative director for Ye’s creative agency, Donda, after interning at Fendi in Rome. His album covers for Ye’s Yeezus and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy were also designed by him.

His arrival at LVMH in 2018 signaled the fusion of streetwear and high-end fashion, with influences from graffiti art, hip hop, and skateboarding culture.

In his work with Louis Vuitton, the designer addressed environmental and social issues with anti-racist and anti-homophobia messages at his January show in Paris.

Earlier this year, Abloh stated that his partnership with LVMH would be used to “expand opportunities for diverse individuals and foster greater equity and inclusion in the industries we serve.”

A flood of tributes to Virgil Abloh poured in from the fashion world and beyond.

“You left us way too soon, Virgil,” said Nine Garcia, the former Elle magazine editor-in-chief.

“Your inexhaustible curiosity, love for design, flawless work ethic, and enormous generosity shaped a creative universe that challenged long-held beliefs about how fashion should engage with other disciplines. Your fashion sense filled a void, attracting a new audience who adored your designs.”

Donatella Versace, a veteran designer, said she was “lost for words” when she learned of Abloh’s death.

She said, “The world has lost a fashion superstar.” “A pioneer.” A creator who will go down in history. On this tragic day, I am thinking of all of your loved ones. Donatella, I love you.”

Abloh was a celebrity name in his own right, with a large following outside the fashion industry.

“Too soon, Virgil,” British actor Idris Elba wrote on Twitter. “Man, you will be missed in this world.”

Riz Ahmed, a fellow British actor, added that Abloh had “stretched culture” and “changed the game,” assisting in the “reimagination of what’s possible.”

“Rest in Power Virgil,” tweeted French actor Omar Sy, best known for his role in the Netflix series Lupin.

Shannon Abloh, his children Lowe and Grey, his sister Edwina, and his parents Nee and Eunice, survive him.

“Virgil valiantly fought a rare, aggressive form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma, for over two years,” read a message on his Instagram account announcing his death.

“Since his diagnosis in 2019, he has chosen to fight his battle in private, undergoing numerous difficult treatments while leading several significant institutions spanning fashion, art, and culture.”

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