Virgil Abloh, the prolific fashion designer known for styling stars like Kanye West and Kid Cudi, died Sunday after a private battle with cancer. He was 41 years old.
Abloh’s death was announced in a post on his Instagram as well as in a tweet from LVMH, the parent company of Louis Vuitton, where Abloh had been the men’s art director since 2018.
“We are 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”, said Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH, in a tweeted statement.
On Instagram, a post to Abloh’s account said the creator was privately battling a rare and aggressive form of cancer, known as cardiac angiosarcoma, which affects the heart.
“He has chosen to wage his battle in private since his diagnosis in 2019, undergoing many difficult treatments, while leading several important institutions that span fashion, art and culture. Through it all, his work ethic, endless curiosity and optimism have never wavered, “the statement read.
Abloh’s career made history in the fashion world when he became the first black art director to lead a division of a major French design house, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
He also founded the streetwear brand Off-White, based in Milan. Plus, Abloh was Kanye West’s creative director for a long time.
Earlier this year, the Abloh-designed dresses went viral after singer and rapper Kid Cudi wore them on “Saturday Night Live.” The dresses were made by Off-White as a tribute to the late singer Kurt Cobain.
“Virgil designed the dress for me. I told him I wanted to show love to Kurt [with] a floral print summer dress and this man made a masterpiece. Thank you @virgilabloh you are a fucking genius !! Love you man, we made it !!! “Kid Cudi wrote at the time.
The statement posted on Instagram said Abloh was determined to pave the way for greater equality in art and design.
“He would often say, ‘Everything I do is for the 17-year-old version of myself,’ deeply believing in the power of art to inspire future generations,” the statement read.
On Twitter, news of Abloh’s death began on Sunday afternoon.
“Virgil Abloh, who changed what was possible in fashion, has passed away”, tweeted fashion critic Vanessa Friedman.
Dani Kwateng, editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue, called the news of Abloh’s death “devastating.”
“His fashion contributions have actually changed shape in many ways – in advertising and in private. Thinking of those close to him today. May he rest in peace,” Kwateng wrote in a Tweeter.
Some have noted the similarities between Abloh’s death and that of Chadwick Boseman, another prolific black figure who died in 2020 after his own private battle with cancer.
“Just a year after Chadwick, Virgil Abloh, another influential dark force, was taken from us due to a private battle with cancer. The resilience of these men had to face such difficult situations in complete silence, working until devastating, ”wrote Michael Cuby, editor of“ them ”online magazine.
Abloh is survived by his wife Shannon Abloh, his children Lowe Abloh and Gray Abloh, his sister Edwina Abloh, his parents Nee and Eunice Abloh.