Virgil Abloh, the groundbreaking designer who revolutionized the house of Louis Vuitton and founded the wildly popular streetwear label Off-White, has passed away at 41, from a rare and aggressive form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma.
LVMH announced the news of his passing in a tweet: “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.” Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive of LVMH added “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.”
But perhaps, it was British Vogue editor-in-chief, Edward Enninful, who’s sentiment captured what made Abloh’s creations and influence so respected and admired, stating via Instagram: “Famously prolific, he always worked for a greater cause than his own illustrious career: to open the door to art and fashion for future generations, so that they — unlike himself — would grow up in a creative world with people to mirror themselves in.”
The legendary designer, once hailed as the Karl Lagerfeld of his generation, was known for his fierce work ethic and his down-to-earth approach. He famously started his career in the luxury industry with a 2009 “coffee-and-copies” type of internship at Fendi in Rome.
However, it wasn’t before long that his vision took the fashion industry by storm. Abloh’s work and ability to connect with a rising generation of consumers is largely responsible for heralding the industry into a new era, and blurring the lines between popular culture and luxury. Globally, Abloh’s vision connected with new markets. Off-White was a key player in fueling the rise of streetwear in China, while Louis Vuitton experienced a surge in popularity under his direction.
The sudden loss of a talent like Virgil Abloh goes beyond replacing a multi-talented designer and collaborator — it’s the loss of a unique vision that would have influenced and changed fashion for a generation still to come.