Fashion’s highest profile black designer, and the man behind some of the more renowned men’s Louis Vuitton collection, Virgil Abloh died at the age of 41 on Sunday.
His family confirmed his passing via Instagram.
“We are devastated to announce the passing of our beloved Virgil Abloh, a fiercely devoted father, husband, son, brother, and friend,” the statement said. “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.”
Abloh was born Sept. 30, 1980, in Rockford, Ill, to Ghanian parents. As a kid, he meshed himself in hip-hop and skate culture, which could be seen in his later designs. After high school, he attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studied civil engineering before getting his master’s in Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology.
At 22, he met Kanye West, becoming his creative director and setting him on a path to have his fashions on runways worldwide. Then in 2018, Abloh became the first Black person to command a line at Louis Vuitton when he was named men’s artistic director.
The designer’s influence in the industry led to collaborations with major celebrities and brands like Nike and Evian. In doing so, he used his innovative ideas to bridge the world of streetwear and high fashion, changing what brands looked for in a designer.
Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the luxury group that bought a majority stake in Abloh’s Off-White brand this year, made the following statement about his death.
“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,” Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive of LVMH, said in a statement.
According to the French luxury goods giant, Abloh had been battling cancer privately for years.
Abloh was also the designer behind the ever-so-popular Off-white brand, which LVMH, bought a 60-percent stake in.
His style allowed for a mix between streetwear and high-end fashion, with his influence including graffiti art, hip hop and skateboard culture.
This past July, LVMH expanded his role with the company, giving him a mandate to launch new brands and partner with existing ones, in a variety of sectors beyond just fashion.
The American fashion designer also worked as a DJ and a visual artist, and had been with Louis Vuitton since March 2018.