Pharrell Williams and Marc Jacobs have led tributes to the late Virgil Abloh.
The 41-year-old fashion muse has tragically died, following a secret battle with a rare form of cancer.
The designer was best known as artistic director of Louis Vuitton – a role which saw him make history when he took over from Kim Jones in 2018, as the first African-American to helm a luxury French fashion house – and the CEO of the Milan label Off-White.
Virgil “valiantly battled a rare, aggressive form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma.”
He was diagnosed in 2019, and, heroically, continued working in fashion while going through “numerous challenging treatments”.
He leaves behind his wife Shannon Abloh and their two children, Lowe Abloh and Grey Abloh.
A statement on Virgil’s Instagram page read: “We are devastated to announce the passing of our beloved Virgil Abloh, a fiercely devoted father, husband, son, brother, and friend.
“He is survived by his loving wife Shannon Abloh, his children Lowe Abloh and Grey Abloh, his sister Edwina Abloh, his parents Nee and Eunice Abloh, and numerous dear friends and colleagues.
“For over two years, Virgil valiantly battled a rare, aggressive form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma.
“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.
“Through it all, his work ethic, infinite curiosity, and optimism never wavered. 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.
“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.”
The family asked for privacy while they “grieve and celebrate” the fashion icon’s life.
They concluded: “We thank you all for your love and support, and we ask for privacy as we grieve and celebrate Virgil’s life.”
Virgil trained as an architect and went on to become a pioneer of game-changing street fashion with Off-White, which he founded in 2012.
He got into fashion when he landed an internship at Fendi in 2009 alongside rap superstar Kanye West, and they continued to collaborate together.
And 48-year-old musician and style icon Pharell, who is heartbroken, was among the first to pay tribute to Virgil.
He wrote: “My heart is broken. Virgil you were a kind, generous, thoughtful creative genius. Your work as a human and your work as a spiritual being will live forever. Sending love and light to your wife, children, family and day ones you’re with the Master now, shine.”
Fellow fashion legend, Marc Jacobs, tweeted: “I am so sorry to read this.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones. May you Rest in Peace and Power dear Virgil.”
Actor Riz Ahmed, 38, hailed Virgil for pushing boundaries and inspiring others to “reimagine what’s possible”.
He wrote: “Rest in Power @virgilabloh … gone too soon but your legacy lives on. Stretched culture & the changed the game. Thank you for all you did to support so many & how you pushed us to reimagine what’s possible. (sic)”
And Tennis ace Venus Williams, 41, wrote: “Omg I can’t believe @virgilabloh is gone. Noooo.”