Virgil Abloh, the founder of fashion brand Off-White and the first African American to serve as artistic director for Louis Vuitton, has died at age 41 after a long battle with a cancer.
Abloh had been battling cardiac angiosarcoma “privately” since 2019 before succumbing to the disease, according to a statement from Abloh’s verified Instagram page. Cardiac sarcoma is a rare type of primary malignant heart cancer.
“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.” the Instagram post continued.
Abloh was considered a groundbreaker for Black fashion designers, according to fashion industry insiders. He was also a DJ, a musician and a furniture designer, according to his art studio’s website.
The Illinois native previously served as a creative director for fellow Illinois native, rapper Kanye West. With West, he designed the cover for Kanye and Jay-Z‘s album, Watch the Throne.
After gaining experience interning at Fendi and working with West, he started his own luxury streetwear brand, Off-White LLC. He collaborated with other brands including Nike, Ikea and Evian, and also designed a wedding gown for Justin Bieber‘s wife, Hailey Bieber.
Abloh sold a 60% stake in Off-White to LVMH this year, giving him an expanded role in the company and made him what some considered one of the most powerful Black executives in the luxury fashion industry.
Abloh is survived by his wife Shannon Sundberg and two children, Grey Abloh and Lowe Abloh, his sister Edwina Abloh, and his parents, Nee and Eunice Abloh.
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.