Abloh died today from “a rare, aggressive form of cancer” that he had been battling for over two years. The news was announced with a statement on his Instagram account.
“We are devastated to announce the passing of our beloved Virgil Abloh, a fiercely devoted father, husband, son, brother, and friend,” said the statement.
“For over two years, Virgil valiantly battled a rare, aggressive form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma,” it continued. “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.”
Abloh studied civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), before entering the fashion industry. He met rapper Kanye West at an internship at fashion brand Fendi and was appointed creative director of West’s agency DONDA in 2010.
He founded streetwear brand Off-White in 2013.
Abloh collaborated with numerous major brands including Nike – where he reimagined 10 of the brand’s most iconic trainers – and IKEA, where he released several collections. He also designed a streetwear collection for the Musée du Louvre.
In 2018 he was named artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection, with his first collection revealed during Paris fashion week.
The following year a major retrospective of his work opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
Abloh was diagnosed with cancer in 2019, but continued working at Louis Vuitton and Off-White.
“Through it all, his work ethic, infinite curiosity, and optimism never wavered,” said the statement. “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,” it continued.
“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.”