Gone Too Soon: Virgil Abloh, Menswear’s Biggest Star, Passes Away at 41 - Lifestyle Asia

“He was also a man with a beautiful soul and great wisdom.”

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton earlier announced on its website the passing of American designer Virgil Abloh.

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According to the post, the 41-year-old Abloh, Louis Vuitton’s men’s artistic director since 2018, has been battling cancer in the past several years.

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“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,” Bernard Arnault, LVMH chairman and CEO says. “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.” 

Born to create

Abloh was born in Rockford, Illinois in 1980 to Ghanaian immigrants Eunice, a seamstress, and Nee, who managed a paint company. After graduating with a degree in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Masters in Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology, the American then interned—along with rapper Kanye West—at Fendi and was placed the company’s Rome office.

The designer then was hired by West to be creative director of his agency Donda in 2010, and would also serve as artistic director of the Jay-Z/West album Watch the Throne. He would launch his first brand, Pyrex Vision, in 2012, but closed it a year later, saying that it was more of an artistic experimentation anything else.

In 2013, he launched the luxury streetwear brand Off-White, launching a collection inspired by everything from the Farnsworth House, Carravagio, and Bauhaus. The next year, he would show first women’s wear collection in Paris Week and would become a finalist of the LVMH prize.

But Off-White’s success couldn’t be stopped as the brand continued to soar, with everyone echoing The New Yorker’s sentiments that Abloh was menswear’s biggest star. Five years after his fashion house’s launch, he joined the Louis Vuitton maison, becoming the first person of African descent to lead the maison’s line.

Sought after

In the past half-decade, Abloh has become a sought-after designer and collaborator, working with such brands as Rimowa and Ikea and has dressed the likes of Serena Williams and Hailey Bieber. He also became part of the board of directors of the Fashion Design Council of America in 2019.

Abloh has also dabbled in other creative pursuits. He collaborated extensively with his good friend Takashi Murakami, and was given a solo art show at the artist’s Kaikai Kiki art gallery in Tokyo. The two would also show in different cities, from London to Paris to Los Angeles. The designer is also a DJ and has performed at Ibiza and Tomorrowland, and has released a single in 2018.

This year, he also launched his own internet show called Imaginary Radio c/o Virgil Abloh.

The creative genius leaves behind his wife Shannon Sundberg, who he met in high school and married n 2009, two children, and many friends devastated by his loss.

On a post on Off-White’s Instagram, the company expressed its grief. Attributing it to New Guards Group heads Davide De Giglio and Andrea Grilli, the brand honored its late founder.

“Virgil was a genius, a visionary but most of all he was family. There are no words to describe the loss that his passing leaves in our lives. His legend, his love and his spirit will remain with us forever. Thank you for changing our lives, Virgil. Rest in power, brother.”

Banner Photo from @virgilabloh on IG

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