Virgil Abloh, the prolific fashion designer known for styling stars like Kanye West and Kid Cudi, died on Sunday after a private battle with cancer. He was 41.
Abloh’s death was announced in a post to his Instagram as well as a tweet by LVMH, the parent company of Louis Vuitton, where Abloh served as the men’s artistic director since 2018.
“We are shocked after this terrible news. Virgil was not only a genius designer, a visionary, he was also a man with a beautiful soul and a great wisdom,” LVMH’s CEO Bernard Arnault said in the tweeted statement.
On Instagram, a post to Abloh’s account said that the designer had been privately battling a rare and aggressive form of cancer, known as cardiac angiosarcoma, which affects the heart.
“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,” the statement read.
Abloh’s career made history in the fashion world when he became the first Black artistic director to helm a division of a top French design house, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
He also went on to found the streetwear brand Off-White, which is based in Milan. Additionally, Abloh had long served as the creative director for Kanye West.
Earlier this year, dresses designed by Abloh went viral after singer and rapper Kid Cudi wore them on “Saturday Night Live.” The dresses were made by Off-White as a tribute to the late singer Kurt Cobain.
“Virgil designed the dress for me. I told him I wanted to show love to Kurt [with] a floral print sundress and this man made a masterpiece. Thank You @virgilabloh ur a f—– genius!! Love you man we did it!!!” Kid Cudi wrote at the time.
The statement posted to Instagram said that Abloh was driven to make 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,” the statement reads.
On Twitter, news of Abloh’s death began trending Sunday afternoon.
“Virgil Abloh, who changed what was possible in fashion, has died,” tweeted fashion critic Vanessa Friedman.
Dani Kwateng, the executive editor of Teen Vogue, called the news of Abloh’s death “devastating.”
“His contributions to fashion have actually be shapeshifting in so many ways — publicity and privately. Thinking about his loved ones today. May he rest in peace,” Kwateng wrote in a tweet.
Some noted the similarities between Abloh’s death and that of Chadwick Boseman, another prolific Black figure who died in 2020 after his own private battle with cancer.
“Just a year after Chadwick, Virgil Abloh, another influential Black force, has been taken from us due to a private cancer battle. The resiliency these men must have had to deal with such difficult situations in complete silence, working all the way to the very end. Devastating,” wrote Michael Cuby, editor-at-large for the online magazine “them.”
Abloh is survived by wife Shannon Abloh, his children Lowe Abloh and Grey Abloh, his sister Edwina Abloh, his parents Nee and Eunice Abloh.