Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Qatar Museums
Virgil Abloh, the artistic director for Louis Vuitton menswear and the founder of the label Off-White, has died after a private battle with cancer. He was 41.
Louis Vuitton parent company LVMH announced Abloh’s death in a tweet on Sunday, along with a joint statement with Louis Vuitton and Off-White.
“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. 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,” CEO of LVMH Bernard Arnault said in the statement.
Abloh was diagnosed with cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare, aggressive form of cancer in 2019, according to a post on his personal Instagram account.
“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,” the Instagram post read.
When Abloh became the artistic director of menswear at Louis Vuitton, he joined a small group of Black designers working at such a high level in French design houses. But Abloh was already a known name before he joined Louis Vuitton.
He founded the luxury streetwear label Off-White in 2012 and found success with both celebrities and teenagers alike. Rihanna, A$AP Rocky, Beyoncé and Jay-Z were all seen wearing Off-White pieces. Abloh also collaborated with companies including Nike, Jimmy Choo, Champion and more.
Abloh was also known for his ties to Kanye West, for whom he designed both album cover art and merchandise. Abloh also served as a creative director for West.
With degrees in both civil engineering and architecture, Abloh’s creativity spanned many areas. In 2019, he launched an Off-White collaboration with IKEA.
Between all his many projects and collaborations, Abloh kept moving even as he was given a cancer diagnosis, a post on his personal Instagram account said.
“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.”
Abloh is survived by wife Shannon Abloh, his children Lowe Abloh and Grey Abloh, his sister Edwina Abloh and his parents Nee and Eunice Abloh.