“The world has lost a creator for the history books” — fashion set pays tribute to Virgil Abloh

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“The world has lost a creator for the history books” — fashion set pays tribute to Virgil Abloh
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The fashion, art and culture worlds were shaken and saddened by the news on Sunday that designer Virgil Abloh, artistic director of menswear at Louis Vuitton and founder of his own luxury streetwear label Off White, had passed away aged 41, following a two-year struggle with cancer.

The news was confirmed on the designer’s personal Instagram account, where it was revealed Abloh, who leaves behind his wife Shannon and two children Lowe and Grey, had privately battled with a rare and aggressive form of cancer called cardiac angiosarcoma since he was diagnosed back in 2019.

A true creative visionary, Abloh singlehandedly changed the fashion industry, shaking up outmoded systems and opening fashion’s ivory towered doors to a wider cast; in particular young black creatives and those like himself who were not formally trained and who had ambitions to do things differently.

Abloh was a “genius designer, a visionary, he was also a man with a beautiful soul and great wisdom,” said Bernard Arnault, LVMH chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton, in a statement. “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.”

And tributes from the rest of the fashion world have flooded social media since the news broke.

Fashion critic Lou Stoppard wrote that he “was an amazing person, a great designer and real support to so many people… He was endlessly curious, endlessly loyal, and he always pushed toward the magnificent, the emblematic - I felt like he wanted everything he did to MEAN something to someone, to people. It was as if he wanted to bottle, and share, that intense awe we feel as a youths.”

Donatella Versace meanwhile said she was “lost for words. The world has lost a fashion superstar. An innovator. A creator for the history books. I am thinking of all your loved ones on this tragic day.”

Donna Karan posted:“My heart breaks at learning the news about Virgil Abloh. He was a designer, husband, father, son and friend to the world. He connected the dots from fashion to furniture to music and beyond. He was a true visionary in every sense of the word and will be greatly missed by the community. The industry will be forever changed by his creativity, influence and talent. My thoughts are with his family and friends.”

Stella McCartney posted that her time knowing Abloh was brief, but that he hit her hard “with a bolt of deeply inspired impact, true talent and a desire to bring a better meaning to the world of fashion and design.”

Bernard Arnault’s son Alexandre, CEO of Rimowa, described Abloh as “the essence of modern creativity,” writing that “everything he touched pushed the boundaries of creation.” While Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing said Abloh “brought lights to entire generations. By your art , your vision , your W O R D S, you made it clear that everything is possible.”

Business of Fashion Founder and CEO Imran Ahmed said that “when Virgil came into the fashion industry, he wasn’t universally embraced. Through sheer perspicacity, discipline, boundless energy and creativity he made it to the very top — and did so on his own terms…That he spent the last 2 years fighting cancer while giving back, setting up his scholarship fund and continuing to generate ideas, projects and provocations at a regular clip is a testament to his true source of energy: connecting with things he is passionate about and giving it 100% — even in the face of sceptics and critics.”

Shoe designer Amina Muaddi described him as “a man with a mission who gave hope, dreams and tools to succeed to an entire new generation,” while fellow fashion designer Victoria Beckham called him “a true inspiration in so many ways.”

Gucci’s Alessandro Michele simply said: “May your kindness illuminate the world of angels. Until we meet again.”

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