Virgil Abloh, LVMH’s star designer and the most high-profile Black figure in luxury fashion, died on Sunday at age 41 after battling cancer for several years. His death led to an outpouring of emotion from fashion to entertainment celebrities worldwide.
A post on Abloh’s Instagram account said that he had privately battled cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare, aggressive form of cancer, since 2019. A tribute for the designer will be held in Miami on Tuesday as Louis Vuitton had planned a catwalk to showcase the spring-summer 2022 collection in the Florida city.
Abloh’s death sent shockwaves through the fashion world, where he is remembered not only for his influence on streetwear and sneaker culture with his brand Off-White, but also his success in revitalizing Louis Vuitton after his appointment as head of menswear design in 2018. In July, LVMH bought a 60% stake in Off-White and named Abloh to a wider role at the conglomerate, giving him the authority to create new brands beyond fashion.
“We’re all shocked,” LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault said. “Virgil was not only a genius designer, a visionary, he was also a man with a beautiful soul and a great wisdom.”
LVMH elevated Abloh in part to help the firm keep capture a younger, more diverse set of consumers. In the age of social media, the designer distinguished himself by gaining more than 6 million Instagram followers, where his posts reflected his daily inspirations as well as his latest creations, collaborations and travels.