Fashion Designer Virgil Abloh Has Died After A Private Battle With Cancer
PARIS, FRANCE — Virgil Abloh, the founder of luxury streetwear brand Off-White and artistic director of men’s wear at Louis Vuitton, has died from cancer at the age of 41.
The Chicago – native, who is known for his wide-ranging collaborations with brands including Nike, Mercedes-Benz, Evian, Ikea, Vitra and Braun, among others is one of the most influential designers of his generation. Abloh had been privately battling the disease for several years, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton said in a statement on Sunday.
“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 officer of LVMH, said in a statement.
“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,” he added.
He had battled a rare form of cancer for years, according to a statement on his Instagram account:
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.
Abloh joined Vuitton in March 2018 (see it here), and his first show in June 2018 marked a new chapter in fashion history: the moment when streetwear crashed the hallowed halls of luxury brands.
In Sept. 2019, the designer said he was taking a break from fashion following doctor’s orders, and cancelled several events and appearances that autumn.
Abloh launched Off-White online in late 2013. The brand held its first showroom presentation in Paris the following January with designs that merged influences ranging from Bauhaus to sports apparel and Caravaggio. It established the brand signifier: thick diagonal stripes that have become a byword for insider cool. Eighteen months later, Abloh expanded into womenswear and staged his first runway show.
The brand made it onto the shortlist of the 2015 edition of the LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers, crystallizing the advent of streetwear as a credible challenger to the luxury status quo, and cementing close ties to the French luxury group. Abloh becomes the first finalist of the prize to snag a major design post within the group.
Trained as a civil engineer and architect, he rose to prominence as a DJ, cofounder of concept store RSVP Gallery in his hometown of Chicago, and creative director for West. He made his fashion debut in 2012 with the launch of Pyrex Vision, a short-lived label that spawned a following among streetwear aficionados.
Off-White won the Urban Luxe award at the British Fashion Awards last December, and Abloh was named International Designer of the Year at last year’s GQ Men of the Year Awards.
Last summer, D.M. Fashion Book reported that LVMH brought a majority stake in the Abloh‘s Off-White label (see it here).
As part of the agreement, LVMH will raise its stake in Off-White LLC, the trademark owner of Abloh’s Off-White brand, to 60 percent. Abloh will retain a 40 percent interest and continue as creative director of the label.
Italian holding company New Guards Group will stay on as the licensee for Off-White. In 2018, online fashion retailer Farfetch acquired, New Guards Group for $675 million (see it here).
September 30, 1980 – November 28, 2021
Photos Credit: Virgil Abloh’s Instagram