Listen to this article here
The world was shocked this week when news broke that Virgil Abloh, 41, passed away from a little-known battle with cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer.
“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,” a post from his verified Instagram account read.
“For over two years, Virgil valiantly battled a rare, aggressive form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma. 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.”
Condolences from people all over the world began to pour in online, showing the massive impact the fashion designer had on not only the fashion industry but also every other industry.
In an industry that widely lacks diversity, Abloh was one of the most powerful and influential Black men in fashion. He became widely known with his contribution to the world of footwear. His innovation with his Off-White brand partnering with Nike entered him into the sports and entertainment arena as an icon.
Born in 1980 from Ghanaian immigrants, Abloh grew up in Illinois and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and got his Master’s degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology.
“My career trajectory started in design in a more traditional multidisciplinary sense, within architecture and engineering before I (started in) fashion,” he told CNN in a 2020 interview.
“I look at my work as metaphoric — what can exist in different disciplines of design, how you can form a new design language, and engage a younger audience, across icons, using some different techniques and investigations.”
Abloh made history in 2018 when he became the first Black artistic director for Louis Vuitton menswear.
LVMH’s, who owns Louis Vuitton, chairman Bernard Arnault said in a statement: “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.”
LVMH purchased a majority stake in Abloh’s Off-White company this past July, showing how much the company believed in Abloh.
When news of Abloh’s death became public, many thought that Louis Vuitton’s planned presentation of Abloh’s Spring/Summer 2022 collection would be cancelled. Louis Vuitton’s Chairman and CEO Michael Burke spoke at the fashion show, held in Miami, Florida, Tuesday night, and said he had spoken to Abloh the night before his death discussing the show.
“Virgil was not looking for the limelight, but the limelight found him,” Burke told the star-filled crowd.
The show included a runway portion filled with models, including rapper Kid Cudi, donning Abloh’s creations, a fireworks display and drone light show that read “Virgil was here”, and a three-story tall statue of Abloh.
It was a beautiful presentation of Abloh’s creations while also memorializing the icon that inspired so many in attendance.