Louis Vuitton creative director and Off-White founder Virgil Abloh is dead at 41 after battling cancer for 'several years'

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Louis Vuitton creative director and Off-White founder Virgil Abloh is dead at 41 after battling cancer for 'several years'
Virgil Abloh died Sunday at the age of 41.Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Qatar Museums
  • Fashion designer Virgil Abloh died at the age of 41, LVMH and Off-White announced in a joint statement.
  • Abloh died after a private battle with cancer that lasted "several years," the statement said.

Virgil Abloh, the creative director for menswear at Louis Vuitton and the founder of fashion brand Off-White, died Sunday at the age of 41, Louis Vuitton and Off-White said in a joint statement.

Abloh died after battling cancer privately for "several years," the statement said.

"We are all shocked after this terrible news," LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault said in a statement. "Virgil was not only a genius designer, a visionary, he was also a man with a beautiful soul and great wisdom."

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"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 added.

Abloh's personal Instagram page confirmed the news in a separate post.

A post shared by @virgilabloh

"We are devastated to announce the passing of our beloved Virgil Abloh, a fiercely devoted father, husband, son, brother, and friend," the post stated. "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."

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According to the statement, Abloh "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."

Anna Wintour, Vogue's editor-in-chief, shared a photo of Abloh on her Instagram story on Sunday with the word "Heartbreaking," along with the heart emoji broken in two.

British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful tributed Abloh on Instagram as reactions from the fashion world pour in on social media.

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"Virgil Abloh changed the fashion industry," Ennifnful wrote. "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."

Abloh was heralded as a ground-breaking streetwear artist and designer who formed close relationships with several celebrities including Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and Serena Williams.

Abloh was born on September 30, 1980, according to Vogue, and raised in Rockford, Illinois, outside of Chicago. His parents, Nee and Eunice Abloh migrated to the US from Ghana, where his father managed a painting company and his mother worked as a seamstress to support the family. According to Vogue, Abloh's mother taught him how to sew, forming the foundation for his career in fashion and design.

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In 2002 Abloh graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison with a degree in civil engineering and later received his master's degree in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2006, Vogue reports. Directly after completing his education, Abloh created the artwork for Kanye West's 2007 album, "Graduation," and would later go on to create the artistic vision for the 2011 album "Watch the Throne" by West and Jay-Z, which earned him a Grammy nomination.

Abloh's first major foray into the fashion world occurred in 2009 when he interned at Fendi along with West. A year later, Abloh was named the creative director of Donda, West's creative agency.

In 2013 Abloh founded the signature streetwear brand Off-White, after shuttering his first brand Pyrex Vision, according to Vogue.

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Abloh made history in 2018 when he was named the artistic director of Louis Vuitton's menswear collections, becoming the brand's first African-American designer.

Abloh was a multi-hyphenate artist whose work included collaborations with Nike and IKEA, as well as paintings, sculptures, and musical performances.

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