Virgil Abloh (a famous fashion designer from Illinois who created Off-White and was later the artistic director for men at Louis Vuitton) has died of cancer at 41.
Sunday was the official announcement by LVMH Moet Shennessy Louis Vuitton of the designer’s passing.
In a statement shared on social media, Bernard Arnault, Chairman and CEO of the company said that “We are all stunned after this terrible news.” “Virgil was more than a visionary and genius designer. He was also a man of great beauty and wisdom.
According to The New York Times Abloh died in Chicago.
LVMH stated that Abloh has been fighting cancer privately for many years.
“The LVMH Family joins me in this time of great sorrow. We are all thinking about his loved ones after they have lost their husbands, fathers, brothers, or friends.”
Abloh’s passing was announced via an Instagram post. His family stated that he had been fighting cardiac angiosarcoma for two years after being diagnosed in 2019. His wife Shannon Abloh and his children Lowe Abloh and Grey Abloh are his survivors. He also has a sister Edwina Abloh and his parents Nee Abloh.
The post says, “Through all it all, his work ethic and infinite curiosity never wavered.” His dedication to his craft and his mission to create opportunities for others was what drove him. He said often, “Everything I do for the 17-year old version of me,” believing in the power and potential of art to inspire future generations.
Abloh was raised in Rockford and studied engineering at the University of Wisconsin before completing a master’s in architecture from Chicago’s Illinois Institute of Technology.
Abloh, the son of Ghanaian immigrants was discovered partly because he had his T-shirt designs printed at a Chicago shop and teamed up with Kanye West.
Abloh was named creative director by West’s creative agency DONDA in 2011. He was the artistic director of some of the most beloved album art of the 21st Century, such as West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” Yeezus, and Jay-Z’s collaboration “Watch the Throne.”
Abloh has been involved in raising funds for amfAR against COVID-19 with Fashion Unites. A few months prior, Abloh was part of a group local designers who contributed their skills to a streetwear collection which embodied Chicago’s connectivity at the 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend.
Abloh was also a designer for Off-White, Louis Vuitton and rugs for Ikea. He also designed sneakers and rugs for Nike. Abloh also created Serena Williams’ 2018 U.S. Open gown.
Abloh was the first African American male to be appointed men’s artistic chief at Louis Vuitton. He took up the position in 2018. A few months later, he made his debut at Paris Fashion Week.
A star-studded audience gathered at Palais Royal to see Rihanna in men’s clothing and West, who a “teary eyed” Abloh hugged after the show. According to the Tribune, Rihanna had invited thousands of students from the area to his debut.
Abloh was a fashion icon, with his Off-White label and neon-orange Louis Vuitton pop ups. He also had an MCA exhibit in 2019.
“I am an optimist. I believe in positivity. It’s what motivates me to get up each day,” Abloh stated to the Tribune last year. “I hope everyone expresses their creativity with more heartfelt moves.
As the news about Abloh’s death spread on Sunday, other designers responded to Abloh’s Instagram post announcing his passing.
“Shocked beyond belief. My dear friend Virgil, fashion has been affected by a major loss. Donatella Versace posted an Instagram comment saying that she will miss you.
Marc Jacobs posted on Instagram, “My thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones.” “May you Rest in Peace Virgil.”
On Twitter, fashion and music community members were quick to express their gratitude and condolences.
“My heart is broken Virgil, your work as a human being and as a spiritual being will always live on,” Pharrell Williams Tweet.
Condolences were sent from all parts of Chicago with the Chicago Bulls and Museum of Contemporary Art sending condolences. The Consulate of France in Chicago also tweeted a statement in Abloh’s memory.
“Today, Chicago mourns the death of a legend,” said the city via its official Twitter account. @virgilabloh was an innovator who changed our culture, broke down barriers and opened doors for Black designers working in high-end fashion.
“He used his genius and created a path for a new generation. We send our thoughts and prayers to his family, friends, and everyone he touched. Rest in peace.
The Tribune will keep this story updated.
Talia Soglin, Darcel Rockett, Courtney Kueppers and Courtney Kueppers contributed to the Chicago Tribune. Variety contributed as well.