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Influence. Impact. Groundbreaking. Game changing. Visionary.

These words often make their way into the fashion narrative, but only for the rare few do they come at once. Virgil Abloh, who died on Sunday at the age of 41, was one of those rare designers. He was all of the above. He was a fashion force and a fashion superstar.

According to the Virgil Abloh Instagram account, the designer battled cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare, aggressive form of cancer and underwent several challenging treatments since his diagnosis in 2019. He chose to keep his fight against the disease private.


“The CFDA mourns the loss of our esteemed member of the board and longtime CFDA designer Virgil Abloh. Virgil changed the landscape of American fashion with his groundbreaking Off-White label and broke barriers as the first Black artistic director of Louis Vuitton. We are thinking of his family and friends during this difficult time,” Chairman of the CFDA Tom Ford said.

“Rest In Power, Virgil. My thoughts are with his family and friends. His influence as an American designer globally is untouchable. He believed in innovation and disruption. He changed our industry for the better. I’m honored he was a CFDA member and served on our Board of Directors. He will be missed,” CFDA CEO Steven Kolb said.

Virgil Abloh

Diane von Furstenberg called him a “visionary and soulful superstar” who “led the way for so many, conveying beauty and hope…so young, so sad.”

Born to Ghanaian parents in Rockford, Illinois outside of Chicago, Mr. Abloh began his career working at Fendi under Silvia Venturini Fendi, and, in 2010, was named Creative Director for Kanye West before launching his Off-White label in 2013.

With Off-White, he firmly positioned himself at the intersection of fashion, art, and music. He elevated streetwear to luxury levels and reinvented the art of collaborations, his most iconic ones ranging from IKEA to Nike, Moncler, Jimmy Choo, Kith, a special London gallery installation with Takashi Murakami, and Jay-Z and Kanye West for their joint 2011 Album Watch the Throne.

“He connected the dots from fashion to furniture to music and beyond,” Donna Karan said. “He was a true visionary in every sense of the word.”

Virgil Abloh

He became the first Black artistic director of Louis Vuitton, in a game-changing move for Paris fashion that influenced and inspired the global fashion landscape.

“We are all shocked by this terrible news,” said Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH. “Virgil was not only a genius designer and a visionary, he was also a man with a beautiful soul and great wisdom.”

Season after season, the designer’s collections for Vuitton were embraced by men worldwide. Most recently, he dressed all seven members of K-pop phenomenon BTS for the American Music Awards.

“Virgil Abloh changed the fashion industry,” Edward Enninful, Editor in Chief of British Vogue, said. “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. Virgil believed that anything was possible for humankind, if only we could tear ourselves away from unconscious biases and norms and reassume the imagination we had as children.”

“Too young, yoo great, and too important to the whole world,” Dapper Dan said. “Virgil’s life was a testament to how much Black Lives Matter by showing what Black lives are capable of. His march took him to the top of luxury fashion. Virgil started out as a foot soldier but died a general.”

Fashion stylist Patti Wilson called him “such a young and talented artist who influenced so many.”

Virgil Abloh and Donatella Versace

Donatella Versace said he was “an innovator, a creator for the history books.”

Kim Jones remembered the many times he and Abloh traveled the world together, hanging out on the floor of hotel rooms, going through Japanese magazines, and talking about ideas. As Jones put it, he was “one of the kindest people you could meet.”

According to Mr. Abloh’s Instagram account, “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.”

For that – and for so much more – we express our gratitude to you, Virgil.

#REMEMBERING VIRGIL ABLOH| Fashion’s Trailblazer

#REMEMBERING VIRGIL ABLOH| Fashion’s Trailblazer

#REMEMBERING VIRGIL ABLOH| Fashion’s Trailblazer

#REMEMBERING VIRGIL ABLOH| Fashion’s Trailblazer

#REMEMBERING VIRGIL ABLOH| Fashion’s Trailblazer

#REMEMBERING VIRGIL ABLOH| Fashion’s Trailblazer

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