Virgil Abloh: Influential Louis Vuitton designer and Off-White founder dies of cancer aged 41

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Influential Louis Vuitton designer Virgil Abloh has died aged 41 following a battle with cancer. 

The designer, who had worked as the men’s artistic director at Louis Vuitton since 2018, had been battling the disease privately for several years, French fashion conglomerate LVMH said on Sunday.

He is also the founder of fashion brand Off White. 

LVMH said in a statement: “LVMH, Louis Vuitton and Off White are devastated to announce the passing of Virgil Abloh, on Sunday, November 28th, of cancer, which he had been battling privately for several years.”

The US designer first came to prominence as rapper Kanye West’s creative director but later made history as the first African-American to lead French luxury brand Louis Vuitton.

He was diagnosed with cardiac angiosarcoma – a rare, aggressive form of cancer in 2019, it has been revealed.

Watch: Louis Vuitton star Virgil Abloh dies of cancer at 41

Gigi Hadid and Justin Timberlake were among those paying tribute on Sunday evening. 

Supermodel Hadid shared a string of photos of them together and wrote: “I am heartbroken by the loss of my dear friend, and a friend to the world, Virgil Abloh. He was 1 of 1.”

Justin Timberlake also paid tribute, writing: “What can you say when a force like @virgilabloh is taken too soon?

“You gave the world so much, in so little time. And created with intensity… knowing better than the rest of us that life is short, but anything is possible.”

Kanye West and Virgil Abloh after the Louis Vuitton Menswear Spring/Summer 2019 show (Getty Images)
Kanye West and Virgil Abloh after the Louis Vuitton Menswear Spring/Summer 2019 show (Getty Images)
Virgil Abloh attends The 2021 Met Gala (Getty Images)
Virgil Abloh attends The 2021 Met Gala (Getty Images)

A message from Bernard Arnault, the chief officer of LVMH, read: “We are all 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.

“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.

“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.

“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.”

It added: “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.”

Watch: Donatella Versace and Pharrell Williams lead tributes to Virgil Abloh

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