“For over two years, Virgil valiantly battled a rare, aggressive form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma,” a message posted to Abloh’s Instagram account read on Sunday. “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 will be remembered as the barrier-breaking designer of his era, kickstarting his career as Kanye West’s creative director before making history as the first black man to lead the French luxury brand, Louis Vuitton.
His admirable influence branched beyond the fashion world, paving the way and creating opportunities for many. In 2017, he designed the uniform for a recently immigrated football team in Paris, whose status excluded them from playing official games. He later invited the group to one of his Off-White shows.
In 2018, Abloh included 3,000 students at his first Louis Vuitton show at the Tuileries. “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,” his Instagram post read.
The designer also supported Ghanian skateboarders and surfers and assisted with Chicago funds to fix parks and play facilities before launching his Post-Modern Scholarship Fund in response to Black Lives Matter.
Heartwarming tributes from celebrity friends, family and fans have since poured out across social media, as the world mourns the late cultural icon.
Ye, formally known as Kanye West, dedicated his latest Sunday Service instalment to Abloh. Shortly after the announcement of his death, West’s choir dedicated a moving rendition of Adele’s Easy on Me. A message read: “IN LOVING MEMORY OF VIRGIL ABLOH, THE CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF DONDA.”
Drake took to Instagram to thank the 41-year-old for everything.
Hailey Bieber recalled working with Abloh and when he designed her wedding dress. “He was someone who always brought life, charisma, love and fun to any situation, and every room he walked into,” she added.
Frank Ocean took to his Instagram stories to pay homage to his “hero.”
“He was always quotable. But the gist of his response was that he was interested in living and living to the maximum extent of his level… which proved to be Impossible today because he was BEYOND,” the singer said.
Olivier Rousteing, creative director of Balmain, said: “You will stay forever in our heart and in the history of Fashion for your talent, your vision and your kindness.”