By Ajibola Aminu
Virgil Abloh, the director of Louis Vuitton and the first African-American to head a French luxury fashion house, has died of cancer at the age of 41.
LVMH, the French holding company, that owns Louis Vuitton, said on Sunday that Abloh had passed away earlier that day after several years of struggling with the disease.
He said, “We are all shocked after this terrible news, Virgil was not only a genius designer, a visionary, he was 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.”
Abloh, the child of Ghanaian immigrants who grew up in Chicago and trained as a civil engineer and then an architect. He made his name through collaborations with the rapper, Kanye West, with whom he started working with 2002 at the age of 22.
Recall that in 2018 he was named artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collections, the first African-American to win such a role. “It is an honour for me to accept this position,” he said at the time.
After a stint as the creative director of Mr West’s design agency Donda, and art director for Mr West and Jay-Z’s 2011 album Watch the Throne, Abloh launched his own street wear brand in Milan called Off-White.
He said, “Off-White is for the 17-year-old version of myself – whereas Vuitton is for the 37-year-old I am today.”
Though he had no formal training in fashion, he had learned much about clothing from his seamstress mother and ascended quickly, winning a British Fashion Award and collaborating with Warby Parker, Jimmy Choo, Ikea and Nike while opening shops in New York and Tokyo.