Virgil Abloh, the co-founder of Off-White and artistic director of Louis Vuitton menswear, passed away on Sunday, November 28, after battling a rare form of cancer, his family and LVMH announced. “For over two years, Virgil valiantly battled a rare, aggressive form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma,” read an Instagram post on his official 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.”
LVMH, the owner of Louis Vuitton, said Abloh had been privately dealing with his cancer diagnosis for several years and that it is shocked and devastated by the news. He was 41 years old. “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,” said Bernard Arnault, LVMH chairman and chief executive officer.
Game-changer — Abloh rose to stardom as the founder of streetwear label Off-White, which would go on to create hit collaborations with brands like Nike, Ikea, and more. Prior to that, he had another brand, Pyrex Original, and was a key contributor to his friend Kanye West’s (AKA Ye) artistic vision — including the art direction for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and The Life of Pablo, two of Ye’s most iconic music albums.
“He often said, ‘Everything I do is for the 17-year-old version of myself.’”
What really put Virgil on the fashion map, however, was his appointment as Louis Vuitton’s menswear artistic director in March of 2018 — where he would become one of the few Black designers at the helm of a high-fashion house. Before his passing, LVMH and Abloh revealed plans to expand their relationship, which included the launch of new brands as well as future collaborations with existing ones.
R.I.P. — Virgil was more than fashion. His work also included art exhibitions, architecture, and even car designs. “Through it all, his work ethic, infinite curiosity, and optimism never wavered,” Abloh’s family said on Instagram. “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.”