Virgil Abloh, the distinguished fashion designer who created Off-White and served as the men’s artistic director for Louis Vuitton, has died. He was 41 years old. According to an Instagram post that appeared on his account Sunday (Nov. 28) morning, Abloh died after battling a rare form of cancer called cardiac angiosarcoma.
“We are devastated to announce the passing of our beloved Virgil Abloh, a fiercely devoted father, husband, son, brother, and friend,” the caption reads. “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.”
Abloh, a protégée of Kanye West, rose to the top of sartorial circles by blending high-fashion with streetwear. He was born on Sept. 30, 1980 in Rockwell, Illinois to Ghanaian immigrant parents. In college, he studied civil engineering and received his Masters of Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology. In 2009, Abloh interned at Fendi, and opened up the Chicago based-boutique RSVP Gallery with Don C. The following year, he was appointed creative director of Ye’s Donda agency. Already having made a name for himself, Abloh founded his first fashion company called Pyrex Vision in 2012. Per Vogue, Abloh would purchase deadstock Ralph Lauren flannel shirts for $40 each, and screen print the word Pyrex on them and the number 23. He sold the shirts for $550 each.
In 2013, Abloh founded Off-White, a luxe streetwear label that many perceive to be his chef-d’oeuvre. He described the Milan, Italy-based brand as, “the gray area between black and white as the color Off-White.” Air quotes, capital letters, barricade tape, and zip ties become the brand’s consistent motifs and by 2016, Off-White was ready to be modeled on runways at Paris Fashion Week. Numerous collaborations with companies such as Nike, Jimmy Choo, Moncler, Sunglass Hut, Timberland, Champion, and IKEA helped elevate Off-White’s in-demand status.
Abloh was named the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collections in 2018, becoming the French fashion house’s first African-American artistic director. “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,” the caption announcing his death reads.
The celebrated fashion designer who once said, “In my mind I haven’t done any work yet, I’ve just made a case for why my point of view is valid,” is survived by his wife Shannon Abloh, his children Lowe Abloh and Grey Abloh, his sister Edwina Abloh, his parents Nee and Eunice Abloh.
Rest in Peace, Virgil Abloh. Check out the Instagram post below: