Virgil Abloh: Louis Vuitton and Off-White designer dies aged 41

Abloh had been privately battling cancer for years

Virgil Abloh arrives at his exhibition at Doha Fire Station in Qatar's capital on November 4. AFP

Virgil Abloh, the influential Louis Vuitton menswear designer and founder of fashion label Off-White, has died at the age of 41 after a private battle with cancer, the design house’s parent company LVMH has said.

Abloh 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 had cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare, aggressive form of cancer, diagnosed in 2019.

“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," LVMH chief executive Bernard Arnault said.

“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.”

A statement on Abloh’s Instagram page described him as “a fiercely devoted father, husband, son, brother and friend".

“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," it said.

“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.”

Abloh was often hailed as one of the most influential designers in the fashion industry but was also a DJ, an artist and had degrees in civil engineering and architecture.

He is survived by wife Shannon, children Lowe and Grey, sister Edwina and parents Nee and Eunice.

Updated: November 29th 2021, 11:37 AM