It has been announced that world-famous fashion designer Virgil Abloh has died.
The first Black creative director of a top French fashion house, he was the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection. He was chosen to be their artistic director in 2018 - bringing streetwear such as hoodies and sneakers to the catwalk as he transcended the fashion world.
Born in Rockford, Illinois, to Ghanaian immigrant parents, he is one of the most renowned fashion designers all over the world. His death, at the peak of his career, has sent shockwaves across the globe, with tributes pouring in from rival design houses, actors and sportspeople for someone who was seen as a deeply humane visionary.
“We are all shocked by this terrible news,” said Bernard Arnault, LVMH chief executive, in a statement posted on LVMH’s Twitter account.
“Virgil was not only a genius designer, a visionary, but 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.”
Never afraid of speaking out about injustices, he addressed both environmental and social issues in his work with Louis Vuitton, with anti-racist and anti-homophobia messages at his January show in Paris. Earlier this year he planned to use his partnership with LVMH to expand opportunities for diverse individuals and foster greater equity and inclusion in the industries he served.
The artistic director of menswear at French fashion house Dior, Kim Jones, said: “So sad to hear about the passing of dear Virgil, one of the kindest people you could ever meet.” Rival Italian luxury fashion house Gucci hailed Abloh as an inspiration - both as a designer and as a person.
On its Twitter account it said: “He will be deeply missed though his vision will live on through the trails that he blazed throughout his career.” He created his first label, Pyrex Vision, in 2012.
In 2013, he created Off-White, a luxury streetwear brand, which won a following through its eye-catching branding before evolving towards more “couture” creations. He was one of a handful of fashion designers who had a close following well beyond the industry and was a celebrity name in his own right.
Long-time friend and collaborator Kanye West dedicated his weekly gathering “Sunday Service” to Abloh, with a livestreamed choir rendition of Adele’s new hit “Easy On Me”.In an Instagram post rapper Drake wrote: “Love you eternally brother.”
Singer/producer Pharrell Williams also took to Instagram with a tribute, writing: “Virgil you were a kind, generous, thoughtful creative genius your work as a human and your work as a spiritual being will live forever.
“Sending love and light to your wife, children, family… you’re with the Master now, shine.”
On Twitter, French World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe posted: “RIP VIRGIL ABLOH. No one will forget the impact you had. God bless you my friend.”
Hollywood actor Idris Elba also tweeted, saying, “Too soon Virgil. You will be missed from this world man,” whilst fellow actor Riz Ahmed added that Abloh had “stretched culture” and “changed the game”, helping to “reimagine what’s possible”.
LVMH said Abloh had been battling privately against cancer for several years.
He was 41.