Ghanaian born American fashion designer, Virgil Abloh, has died of cancer at the age of 41.
Virgil Abloh, the founder of Off-White and the Men’s Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton’s death was confirmed by his Instagram this afternoon.
“We are devastated to announce the passing of our beloved Virgil Abloh, a fiercely devoted father, husband, son, brother, and friend,” the post reads. “He is survived by his loving wife Shannon Abloh, his children Lowe Abloh and Grey Abloh, his sister Edwina Abloh, his parents Nee and Eunice Abloh, and numerous dear friends and colleagues.
For over two years, Virgil valiantly battled a rare, aggressive form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma. He chose to endure his battle privately since his diagnosis in 2019, undergoing numerous challenging treatments, all while helming several significant institutions that span fashion, art, and culture.
Through it all, his work ethic, infinite curiosity, and optimism never wavered. Virgil was driven by his dedication to his craft and to his mission to open doors for others and create pathways for greater equality in art and design. He often said, “Everything I do is for the 17-year-old version of myself,” believing deeply in the power of art to inspire future generations.
We thank you all for your love and support, and we ask for privacy as we grieve and celebrate Virgil’s life.”
He was the artistic director of Louis Vuitton and the first African-American to head a French luxury fashion house.
LVMH, the French holding company that owns Louis Vuitton, announced on Sunday, November 28, 2O21 that Abloh had passed away earlier that day after several years’ private struggle with the disease.
“We are all shocked after this terrible news,” said LVMH boss Bernard Arnault. “Virgil was not only a genius designer, a visionary; he was also a man with a beautiful soul and great wisdom.
“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.”
Abloh, the child of Ghanaian immigrants who grew up in Chicago and trained as a civil engineer and then an architect, made his name through collaborations with the rapper Kanye West, with whom he began working in 2002 at the age of 22.
After a stint as the creative director of Mr West’s design agency Donda, and art director for Mr West and Jay-Z’s 2011 album Watch the Throne, Abloh launched his own streetwear brand in Milan called Off-White.
Though he had no formal training in fashion, he had learned much about clothing from his seamstress mother and ascended quickly, winning a British Fashion Award and collaborating with Warby Parker, Jimmy Choo, Ikea and Nike while opening shops in New York and Tokyo.
In 2018 he was named artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collections, the first African-American to win such a role. “It is an honour for me to accept this position,” he said at the time.
Off-White, he said, “is for the 17-year-old version of myself – whereas Vuitton is for the 37-year-old I am today.”
Meanwhile, he gained respect as a DJ, starting out with house parties in high school and later playing a nightclub residency at the Wynn luxury resort in Las Vegas, as well as two radio shows.
In the background, however, since 2019, he was also battling a rare and aggressive form of cancer known as cardiac angiosarcoma, where tumours form in the walls of blood or lymph vessels usually starting in the heart.