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Fashion Maverick Virgil Abloh Dead at 41

Virgil Abloh passed away after a two year battle with a rare cancer.

Game-changing fashion designer Virgil Abloh — who is the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection and founder of Off-White — passed away on Sunday, November 28th. The designer was 41-years-old. 

The announcement was made on Abloh’s Instagram account. According to the post, Abloh spent the last two years battling a rare cancer called cardiac angiosarcoma. Abloh kept the diagnostic private, and according to the post he spent the last two years “undergoing numerous challenging treatments.”

After the news was announced, friends and collaborators, ranging from Pharrell Williams to Nas to Questlove, sent out posts honoring the legendary designer.

Abloh was born in Chicago to Ghanaian parents on September 30, 1980. He originally planned to be an an architect, getting his masters degree from from the Illinois Institute of Technology. But he met a young Kanye West while the rapper was coming up during the mid 2000s. The two would become friends and collaborators, interning together at Fendi in Rome in 2009. This was around the time when Abloh would become a public figure, appearing in the instantly famous fashion week 2009 photo that featured Kanye, Virgil, Don C, Taz Arnold, Chris Julian, and Fonzworth Bentley. 

Abloh eventually became creative director of Kanye’s creative company DONDA, working on classic albums like Watch the throne, My Dark Twisted Fantasy, and more. 

Eventually Abloh would go out on his own, launching Pyrex Vision (a brand where he took Ralph Lauren flannel shirts and screen printed Pyrex and the number 23 on them.) From there he would launch Off-White, a multi-platform company based in Milan. The brand describes itself as, “the gray area between black and white as the color Off-White.” Off-White would become known for its collaborations, working with Heron Preston, Nike, Jordan, Levi, Moncler, and more.

In 2018 he reached a career high becoming the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collections. In a statement he released at the time, he said:

“It is an honor for me to accept this position. I find the heritage and creative integrity of the house are key inspirations and will look to reference them both while drawing parallels to modern times.”

Earlier in the month Dazed publication an editorial from Abloh where he wrote about his vision.

“I don’t think about the product at all. I don’t think about commerce at all. I don’t think about business or whatever. If someone’s got a huge pen and they’re writing down the history books of our time, I want to make sure we are asking, ‘Where are the diverse people that make objects culturally relevant?’ Black and brown people give brands energy, and I feel brands should input it back.”

Abloh is survived by his wife Shannon and two children Lowe and Grey.

Dimas Sanfiorenzo

Dimas Sanfiorenzo is the Managing Editor for Okayplayer. He specializes in coverage centered around music, pop culture, and politics. Email: Dimas@okayplayer.com

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