Influential Designer's Death Stuns Fashion, Art Worlds

Virgil Abloh, 41, was artistic director for menswear at Louis Vuitton
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 28, 2021 5:46 PM CST
Influential Fashion Designer Dies After Private Cancer Battle
File photo of Virgil Abloh backstage at his Off-White ready to wear Fall-Winter 2019-2020 show in Paris. Abloh, a leading fashion executive hailed as the Karl Lagerfeld of his generation, has died after a private battle with cancer. He was 41.   (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)

Virgil Abloh, the groundbreaking designer for Louis Vuitton and Off-White, died Sunday at age 41. He had been diagnosed with cardiac angiosarcoma, but had chosen not to go public with his diagnosis, battling the disease in private, according to a post on his Instagram profile. Abloh didn’t start his career in fashion—he held degrees in civil engineering and architecture—but he’s best known for his menswear designs. He learned to sew from his mother, not from a school. He worked for Kanye West as his creative director, winning a Grammy for the design of Watch the Throne, West’s album with Jay-Z, the Washington Post reports.

He started his own clothing brand, Off-White, in 2013. It was a huge hit, especially among social media influencers, despite being criticized for “a crude sense of pop weirdness,” as Austin Collins characterized it in a Vanity Fair piece. He took on the role of artistic director for Louis Vuitton menswear in 2018, brought on board by Michael Burke, who worked with him at Fendi more than a decade prior. In addition to clothes, he designed furniture, and worked on a single car for Mercedes-Benz. “I don’t get too bogged down in the clothes. For me, it’s one big art project,” he once said in an interview with The Cut. He is survived by his wife, Shannon, his children, Lowe and Grey, his sister, and his parents. (More obituary stories.)

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