Virgil Abloh, Louis Vuitton and Off-White Designer, Dead at 41 After Privately Battling Rare Cancer

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Virgil Abloh, Louis Vuitton and Off-White Designer, Dead at 41 After Privately Battling Rare Cancer
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The fashion world is mourning the loss of a legend.

Designer Virgil Abloh, the artistic director of Louis Vuitton's menswear collection and the founder of the Off-White label, has died at the age of 41 after privately battling "a rare, aggressive form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma," a statement read on his Instagram on Sunday, Nov. 28.

"We are devastated to announce the passing of our beloved Virgil Abloh, a fiercely devoted father, husband, son, brother, and friend," a message posted to the designer's Instagram account stated. "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."

According to the statement, Virgil "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."

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Per Johns Hopkins Medicine, cardiac angiosarcoma is a "rare type of primary malignant (cancerous) tumor that occurs in the heart."

Virgil Abloh, Paris Fashion Week 2019
Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images

Despite his health challenges, the entrepreneur was focused on his craft more than ever.

"Through it all, his work ethic, infinite curiosity, and optimism never wavered," the statement on his Instagram 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."

According to the message, Virgil lived by this motto: "'Everything I do is for the 17-year-old version of myself,' believing deeply in the power of art to inspire future generations."

Following the news about the fashion expert's passing, Louis Vuitton released a heartfelt statement on social media.

Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH, stated, "We are all shocked by this terrible news. Virgil was not only a genius designer and 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 on the passing of their husband, father, brother, son and friend."

Virgil Abloh, 2019 CFDA Awards, Red Carpet Fashion
Matt Baron/Shutterstock

New Guards co-founders, Davide De Giglio and Andrea Grilli, whose company oversees Off-White and other fashion brands, also shared their heartache over Virgil's death.

"Virgil was a genius, a visionary but most of all he was family," their joint statement read on Off-White's Instagram page. "There are no words to describe the loss that his passing leaves in our lives. His legend, his love and his spirit will remain with us forever. Thank you for changing our lives, Virgil. Rest in power, brother."

Virgil founded Off-White, an Italian luxury fashion label that has become a fan-favorite among celebs and influencers, in 2012. A year later, Ye (formerly known as Kanye West) hired him to be his creative partner. The two were longtime collaborators and had even interned at Fendi together in 2009.

"We're all the children of Kanye's trailblazing," Virgil told W in 2017. "This generation wouldn't have the freedom to cross genres had it not been for his passion to find more than what was delivered to him."

In March 2018, Virgil made history as the artistic director of Louis Vuitton's menswear collection, becoming the first African American to lead the brand's menswear line, according to The New York Times. Moreover, he was also one of the few Black designers to lead a major French fashion house.

"I feel elated," he told the outlet at the time. "This opportunity to think through what the next chapter of design and luxury will mean at a brand that represents the pinnacle of luxury was always a goal in my wildest dreams. And to show a younger generation that there is no one way anyone in this kind of position has to look is a fantastically modern spirit in which to start."

He added, "I want to use Louis Vuitton's history with travel to really look at different cultures around the world to help make all our humanity visible. When creativity melds together with global issues, I believe you can bring the world together. Fashion on this level can really open eyes."

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