Renowned designer Virgil Abloh has passed away. He was just 41 years old.
Louis Vuitton, where Abloh served as Artistic Director of Menswear, and Off-White, the brand he founded in 2012, announced his death. Abloh was reportedly battling cancer for several years before passing on Sunday, November 28.
“We are all shocked after this terrible news. Virgil was not only a genius designer, a visionary, he was also a man with a beautiful soul and great wisdom,” said LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault in its statement. “The LVMH family joins me in this moment of great sorrow, and we are all thinking of his loved ones after the passing of their husband, their father, their brother or their friend.”
According to a statement on Abloh’s own IG, after a 2019 diagnosis he suffered from “a rare, aggressive form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma” privately.
Abloh came to prominence first via his work with Kanye West before venturing off on his own as a ridiculously successful creative in the fashion world. The son of Ghanaian immigrant parents, the Rockford, Illinois native secured a degree in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2002 and a Masters in Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in 2006.
But his true passion was fashion—he famously interned with Kanye West at Fendi in 2009 and never looked backed, serving as an early Creative Director at Ye’s DONDA while launching his Off-White brand and breaking barriers in the highfalutin fashion world. After a strained relationship with Ye, in recent years the two had reconciled. His Off-White x Nike collaborations have become sneaker grails, selling for thousands on the aftermarket.
While he had his fair share of critics, Virgil Abloh’s mere existence in fashion as a Black man was a win for the culture. Some of the famed album covers he had his design finger on include My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Watch The Throne. The legion of people he inspired, and the brands that blatantly, and often, hijacked his work, is a testament to his indelible impact.
Celebs and peers like Odell Beckham, Jr., Idris Elba and Pharrell Williams have started saluting the legend for all he achieved in such short time on this Earth.
“Virgil you were a kind, generous, thoughtful creative genius your work as a human and your work as a spiritual being will live forever,” wrote Pharrell on Twitter.
Abloh leaves behind his wife, Shannon Abloh, and two children. Rest in power peace Virgil Abloh.