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6th December 2021

Virgil Abloh, the visionary designer dies after privately battling cancer

Artistic director of Louis Vuitton and founder of Off-White has died at the age of 41 and leaves behind a new and better fashion industry
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Virgil Abloh, the visionary designer dies after privately battling cancer
Photo: Myles Kalus and Anak Jihem @ Wikimedia Commons

Virgil Abloh, the acclaimed founder of the brand Off-White and the artistic director of Louis Vuitton has died on Sunday after a two-year battle with a rare form of cancer: cardiac angiosarcoma. He was 41.

His death was announced by his family from his Instagram account. The message reads: “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 […]”. 

The fashion industry paid tribute to the legendary designer at the Fashion Awards ceremony on Monday. The actor Iris Elba, a friend of Abloh, read a poem by Maya Angelou entitled ‘When Great Trees Fall’ and gave a heartfelt speech in his honour. 

He was also named on the ’15 leaders of change’ at the awards, a decision that was made weeks before his death. CEO of the British Fashion Council, Stephanie Phair, spoke of Abloh as “a creative force of change, who throughout his career focused on inclusivity and philanthropy across fashion, art, music, design and architecture, making him one of the most influential designers of his generation”. 

As a designer, he had a work ethic unlike any other and was a prolific genius. His work for Louis Vuitton and his own brand, as well as the many collaborations he did, showed his transformative vision for fashion. 

He managed to create pieces that spoke to customers while always staying ahead of the curve in terms of design and technology. 

If there’s one thing everybody agrees on, it’s that Virgil Abloh changed the industry for the better. After ascending to the heights of the luxury industry, he spent his consequent time opening doors for others to follow path. He worked to achieve greater equality of opportunity in art and design. 

He leaves behind loving friends and family but also a more inclusive fashion industry, one that looks “a little bit more like [him]” and that will hopefully continue to become better in honour of his memory. 

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