Virgil Abloh, the prolific Black designer who founded and built Off-White into a formidable brand, designed countless hits for Nike and Jordan Brand and made a huge mark at Louis Vuitton as the men’s artistic director, died on Sunday at age 41. His death was confirmed by both his family and LVMH in a statement.
“We are devastated to announce the passing of our beloved Virgil Abloh, a fiercely devoted father, husband, son, brother, and friend. 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,” his family wrote in an Instagram post.
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“For over two years, Virgil valiantly battled a rare, aggressive form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma. 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. Through it all, his work ethic, infinite curiosity, and optimism never wavered. 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. We thank you all for your love and support, and we ask for privacy as we grieve and celebrate Virgil’s life.”
In another statement, Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH, said, “LVMH, Louis Vuitton and Off-White are devastated to announce the passing of Virgil Abloh, on Sunday November 28, of cancer, which he had been battling privately for several years. We are all shocked after the terrible news. 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.”
In addition to his work at Off-White and LVMH, Abloh was one of Nike and Jordan Brand’s most trusted collaborators.
In 2017, the designer won the FNAA collaboration of the year award for the Air Jordan 1 from his instantly iconic “The Ten” collection.
Through his memorable speech, Abloh explained how important the thoughts and drive of interns can be, which is a mindset he still employs even as a successful designer today.
“This award, to me, is representative of my emotion as an intern. That emotion of showing up to this dream job — or let’s even go back further — that emotion of dreaming of a dream job, showing up and proving you can add ideas to an industry that’s already set in its ways, that always delivers great things,” Abloh explained.
He shared that his Nike “The Ten” lineup wouldn’t have been possible without it.
“This award wouldn’t have happened to me if I didn’t have that same intern spirit. And I showed up to Nike and said, ‘Hey, I like sneakers, I want to design a bunch of them,” Abloh said.
But it was the last line he delivered that resonated with attendees the most.
“In closing, high-five your intern tomorrow and tell them they could win the Shoe of the Year award, too,” he said.
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