Virgil Abloh, acclaimed fashion designer, dead at 41

CHICAGO — Virgil Abloh, a prolific men’s designer who founded the Off-White label and became men’s artistic director for Louis Vuitton, died Sunday of cancer. He was 41.

>> PHOTOS: Virgil Abloh through the years

Abloh died in Chicago after a two-year battle with cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare cancer, according to The New York Times.

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His death was also confirmed from his verified Instagram account.

“We are devastated to announce the passing of our beloved Virgil Abloh, a fiercely devoted father, husband, son, brother, and friend,” the post read. He is survived by his loving wife Shannon Abloh, his children Lowe Abloh and Grey Abloh, his sister Edwina Abloh, his parents Nee and Eunice Abloh, and numerous dear friends and colleagues.”

The luxury group LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton, tweeted about Abloh’s death, calling it “terrible news.”

“Virgil was not only a genius designer, a visionary, he was also a man with a beautiful soul and great wisdom,” LVHM chairman and chief executive Bernard Arnault tweeted.

Abloh was born and raised in Rockford, Illinois, before studying engineering at the University of Wisconsin, the Chicago Tribune reported. He later earned a master’s degree in architecture from Chicago’s Illinois Institute of Technology, the newspaper reported.

The son of Ghanaian immigrants, Abloh was discovered after having his T-shirt designs printed in a Chicago shop, the Tribune reported.

In 2011, Kanye West named Abloh creative director of his creative agency, DONDA, the newspaper reported. He worked as artistic director on some of the most popular album art of the 21st century, including West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” “Yeezus” and “Watch the Throne,” West’s collaboration with rapper Jay-Z.

Abloh was a prolific collaborator with outside brands from Nike to Evian, the Times reported. His approach to design led to comparisons with Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons, the newspaper reported.

In 2012, Abloh founded Off-White, and in 2018 he was named the men’s artistic director of Louis Vuitton, CNN reported. LVMH acquired a majority stake in Off-White in July 2021, according to the news organization.

Abloh branched out into furniture design in 2017 and vehicle design in 2020 with Mercedes-Benz, CNN reported. In May 2021, he was the designer for poet Amanda Gorman for the cover of Vogue.

Abloh was named among Time’s 100 Most Influential People in 2018, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago presented an exhibition of his work in 2019.

“I’m an optimist. I ride in positivity. That’s what helps me get up every day,” Abloh told the Tribune in 2020. “I just hope that everyone is more heartfelt in their moves, that they express their creativity.”