Virgil Abloh, founder of fashion label Off-White and the first African-American to serve as artistic director of Louis Vuitton, has died at age 41 after a long battle with cancer.
Abloh had been battling angiosarcoma “privately” since 2019 before succumbing to the disease, according to a statement from Abloh’s verified Instagram page. Cardiac sarcoma is a rare type of primary malignant heart cancer.
“Through it all, his work ethic, his infinite curiosity and his optimism never wavered. Virgil was motivated by his dedication to his profession and his mission to open doors to others and create pathways for a greater equality in art and design … He would often say, “Everything I do is for the 17-year-old version of myself”, deeply believing in the power of art to inspire future generations. ” Instagram posting continued.
“We are all shocked by this terrible news”, Bernard Arnault CEO of LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton SE, said in a statement.
“Virgil was not only a genius designer and a visionary, but he was also a man with a beautiful soul and great wisdom … The LVMH family joins me in this moment of great sadness, and we think all to his relatives after the death of their husband, father, brother or friend, ”said Arnault
Abloh was considered a trailblazer for black fashion designers, according to fashion industry insiders. He was also a DJ, musician and furniture designer, according to his art studio’s website.
Abloh was born in Rockford, Illinois. His parents were immigrants from Ghana. He was the creative director of fellow Illinois rapper Kanye West, then turned to his passion for fashion design after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in civil engineering and architecture. at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
With West, he designed the cover art for Kanye West and Jay-Z’s album, “Watch The Throne”.
After gaining experience interning at Fendi and working with West, he launched his own luxury streetwear brand, Off-White LLC. He has collaborated with other brands including Nike, Ikea and Evian, and has also designed a wedding dress for Justin Beiber’s wife, Hailey Beiber.
Abloh sold a 60% stake in Off-White to LVMH this year, giving him an expanded role in the business and making him what some considered to be one of the most powerful black executives in the clothing industry. luxury fashion.
Tributes to Abloh poured in on social media.
“My heart is broken,” singer Pharrell wrote on Twitter. “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. Sending love and light to your wife, your children, your family and the first days you are with the Master now, shine. “
“We would like to express our deepest condolences to the loved ones of Virgil Abloh, a huge inspiration to all of us both as a designer and as a person”, Gucci posted on Instagram.
Kris Jenner said on Twitter: “I am so saddened and devastated to learn of the passing of our dear friend Virgil Abloh. I send all my love and prayers to his beautiful family. You are an angel @virgilabloh and we love you. “
“I am so sorry to read this. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones. May you rest in peace and power, dear Virgil,” wrote Marc Jacobs.
Drake posted on Instagram: “My plan is to touch the sky 1000 more times for you … I love you forever brother.”
Abloh is survived by his wife Shannon Sundberg and two children, Gray Abloh and Lowe Abloh, his sister Edwina Abloh and his parents, Nee and Eunice Abloh.
-Christine Theodorou and Jacqueline Laurean Yates of ABC News contributed to this report.