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Vigil Abloh—fashion designer, artistic director of Louis Vuitton Men’s, and founder of Off-White—has died from a rare form of cancer called cardiac angiosarcoma. The news was confirmed by his family via a statement posted to his official Instagram account. He was 41.
According to the post, Abloh was diagnosed with cardiac angiosarcoma back in 2019, but he decided not to make that information public. “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,” the statement read.
“Through it all, his work ethic, infinite curiosity, and optimism never wavered,” the statement continued. “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.”
Abloh was born on September 30, 1980 in Rockford, Illinois to Ghanian immigrant parents. His mother was a seamstress (who taught Abloh how to sew) and his father worked for a paint company. Abloh graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and received a degree in civil engineering. He also attended the Illinois Institute of Technology where he received his Master of Architecture. It was during his time at the Institute of Technology that he began designing tee shirts and writing for a fashion blog called The Brilliance.
It was also around this time that Abloh met Kanye “Ye” West and the pair continued to frequently collaborate throughout their careers. Abloh served as creative director for Ye’s design agency Donda, he served as artistic director for the Ye/Jay-Z collab album Watch The Throne, and he even designed a few of a few of Ye’s album covers, including My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Yeezus, 808s & Heartbreaks, and Kanye West Presents: Good Music - Cruel Summer.
In 2012, he founded the highly esteemed and much-loved streetwear label Off-White. The company was described by Abloh as “the gray area between black and white as the color off-white.”
In 2018, Abloh was named the first Black artistic director of Louis Vuitton Men’s. “It is an honor for me to accept this position,” he said at the time. “I find the heritage and creative integrity of the house are key inspirations and will look to reference them both while drawing parallels to modern times.”
Most recently, he began a monthly two-hour internet radio show on Worldwide FM called “Imaginary Radio c/o Virgil Abloh.”
Abloh is survived by his wife and two children, as well as his sister and his parents.