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Virgil Abloh, renowned American fashion designer born to Ghanaian immigrants in Rockford, Illinois, dies at 41

Abloh, who served as a men's artistic director of Louis Vuitton and founded the Milan-based label Off-White, was diagnosed with a cardiac-angiosarcoma, a rare, aggressive form of cancer in 2019.

Virgil Abloh, a renowned American fashion designer who was born to Ghanaian immigrant parents in Rockford, Illinois, died on Sunday at the age of 41, following a battle with “a rare, aggressive form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma.”

Abloh, who served as a men’s artistic director of Louis Vuitton and founded the Milan-based label Off-White, was diagnosed with a cardiac-angiosarcoma, a rare, aggressive form of cancer in 2019.

He is survived by wife Shannon Abloh, his children Lowe Abloh and Grey Abloh, his sister Edwina Abloh and his parents Nee and Eunice Abloh.

“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,” read a statement posted to his official Instagram page.

“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.

“Through it all, his work ethic, infinite curiosity, and optimism never wavered. Virgil was driven by his dedication to his craft and to his mission to open doors for others and create 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. We thank you all for your love and support, and we ask for privacy as we grieve and celebrate Virgil’s life,” added the statement.

Louis Vuitton parent company LVMH announced Abloh’s death in a tweet along with a joint statement with Louis Vuitton and Off-White.

“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,” the statement read.

“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. 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,” CEO of LVMH Bernard Arnault said in the statement.

Even before he became artistic director at Louis Vuitton, joining a small group of Black designers working at such a high level in French design houses, Abloh was already a known name.

He founded the luxury streetwear label Off-White in 2012. Celebrities like Rihanna, A$AP Rocky, Beyoncé and Jay-Z were all seen wearing Off-White pieces. Abloh also collaborated with companies including Nike, Jimmy Choo, Champion and more.

NPR noted that “Abloh was also known for his ties to Kanye West, for whom he designed both album cover art and merchandise. Abloh also served as a creative director for West.”

In 2019, Abloh launched an Off-White collaboration with IKEA.

The fashion designer who had degrees in both civil engineering and architecture was creative and successful.

In 2018, after he was named as the artistic director of Vuitton’s menswear collection, Time Magazine named him as one of its 100 most influential people alive, with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami writing of Abloh: “Everything from the way he works to how he uses his time to how he makes his judgments is principled. The foundation of his value, or branding, is humanity itself, not a superficial trick.”

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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