Louis Vuitton star designer Virgil Abloh dies in private battle with cancer

PARIS, November 28 (Reuters) – Virgil Abloh, the son of Ghanaian immigrants who was born in the United States and became the most prominent black designer in fashion and the creative mind behind Louis Vuitton’s menswear collections, died Sunday at the age of 41, after a two-year battle with a rare form of cancer.

Abloh, who has also worked as a DJ and visual artist, was since March 2018 the male artistic director of Vuitton, the world’s largest luxury brand.

Abloh founded Italian luxury streetwear brand Off-White, in which LVMH took a 60% stake earlier this year. He was a former collaborator with rapper and fashion designer Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, who dedicated his last Sunday service to Abloh, according to billboard.com.

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“Virgil was not only a genius designer, a visionary, he was also a man with a beautiful soul and great wisdom,” said Bernard Arnault, the billionaire boss of the owner of Luis Vuitton, the French conglomerate of the LVMH mode (LVMH.PA), in a press release. Sunday statement.

Born in 1980 near Chicago, Abloh and his sister grew up in Rockford, Illinois. According to a 2018 Vogue magazine profile, her mother Eunice Abloh, a seamstress, taught her the basics of the trade from an early age.

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he obtained a master’s degree in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Abloh and Ye became interns at Fendi in Rome, and toured Paris Fashion Week. In 2010, Abloh worked as a Creative Director for Ye’s creative agency, Donda. He also designed album covers for Ye’s “Yeezus” and “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”.

His arrival at LVMH in 2018 marked the marriage between streetwear and high-end fashion, mixing sneakers and camouflage pants with tailored suits and evening dresses. His influences include graffiti art, hip hop, and skateboarding culture.

The style was adopted by the group as they sought to breathe new life into certain labels and attract a younger crowd.

Designer Virgil Abloh appears at the end of his Spring / Summer 2019 collection for fashion label Off-white during Men’s Fashion Week in Paris, France, on June 20, 2018. REUTERS / Charles Platiau

A prolific globetrotter, Abloh has generated a buzz around products outside of the fashion world, ranging from Ikea doormats with the inscription “Keep Off” to bottles of Moet & Chandon champagne and Evian water.

Abloh picked up his pace slightly in 2019, citing health concerns, and he was absent from an Off-White fashion show that year.

In July, LVMH expanded its role, giving it the mandate to launch new brands and partner with existing brands in a variety of sectors beyond fashion. For her label’s first show in over a year, as activities resumed in Paris after months of pandemic containment, Abloh offered her audiences a performance by British rapper Maya Arulpragasam, known as MIA, dancing with her on stage at the end.

Abloh has relied on messages of inclusiveness and gender fluidity to expand the popularity of the Louis Vuitton brand, weaving themes of racial identity into its fashion shows with poetry performances and art installations.

In an effort to reach Asian consumers entrenched by the coronavirus pandemic, the designer sent his collections of colorful costumes and utilitarian-flavored outerwear to Shanghai last summer, when many brands canceled catwalk shows. fashion.

Cameroonian handbag designer Wilglory Tanjong said on Instagram: “Virgil Abloh’s existence was so resounding that it paved the way for other black designers like me. And for that I am eternally grateful.”

Abloh visited Doha a few weeks ago as Qatar museums unveiled “Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech”, a mid-career retrospective. The exhibition was presented in 2019 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.

Abloh is survived by his wife, Sannon, his children Lowe and Gray, his sister, Edwina, and his parents, Nee and Eunice. According to the New York Times, Abloh died in Chicago.

“For more than two years, Virgil has valiantly battled a rare and aggressive form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma,” said a post on his Instagram account. “He has chosen to endure his battle in private since his diagnosis in 2019, undergoing many difficult treatments, while leading several important institutions that span fashion, art and culture.”

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Reporting by Silvia Aloisi, Mimosa Spencer and Arriana McLymore; Editing by John Irish, Catherine Evans, David Gregorio, Daniel Wallis & Shri Navaratnam

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