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Legendary Designer and Visionary Virgil Abloh Dead at 41

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Nov. 28 2021, Updated 2:25 p.m. ET

It is with a heavy heart that CELEB shares news of the death of legendary designer and visionary Virgil Abloh. The designer, who has been at the forefront of menswear fashion for years, was beloved by many for his ability to bring social consciousness into fashion and his willingness to push boundaries and inspire thought. The designer’s death will leave a hole in the world of fashion, and in the hearts of those who have come to love his unique vision and creativity.

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Virgil Abloh’s Death

LVMH made the announcement on social media today, sharing the sad news of Abloh’s passing with the world. In the post, LVMH shared, “LVMH, Louis Vuitton and Off White are devastated to announce the passing of Virgil Abloh, on Sunday, November 28th, of cancer, which he had been battling privately for several years.

‘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 friend friend,’ Bernard Arnault.”

It’s a devastating announcement for the world to have lost such a man of great vision, and the fashion industry. Fashion has long eddied around the creative genius of Abloh, who has constantly pushed social change and progress through his expression in men’s fashion and the campaigns he’s become famous for.

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Virgil Abloh’s Life

Virgil Abloh Off-White

Abloh’s death at just 41 years old is a shock, since his battle with cancer was kept completely private. Born in Rockford, Illinois in 1980 just outside of Chicago. Abloh’s parents are Ghanaian immigrants and his mom teaches him how to sew from a young age. In 2002, he graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in civil engineering. In 2006, Abloh graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology with a master’s degree in architecture, giving him a foundational skill set that would later shape his fashion designs.

In 2009, Kanye West and Abloh worked together as interns at Fendi, and their creative force was noted by industry professionals around them. In 2010, Abloh was hired to helm West’s creative agency Donda, as the creative director. The very next year, Abloh directed the album Watch the Throne by Jay-Z and west, and earns a Grammy nomination for it.

Then in 2012, Abloh take his first step into his own brand, launching Pyrex Vision. Not long after however, Abloh closed down Pyrex Vision and instead founded Off-White, a multi-platform creative launch. In 2014, Abloh begins showing his own brand’s men’s and women’s fashions at Paris Fashion Week, quickly gaining the attention of the world. Abloh continues to grow his brand internationally, earning acclaim when Beyonce wore one of his pieces.

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Vogue writes that in 2017, “Even with the announcement of a collaborative exhibition with Takashi Murakami opening at Gagosian; the release of his first song; the opening of his New York store; the British Fashion Award for Urban Luxe Brand; and collaborations with Warby Parker, Jacob the Jeweler, and Jimmy Choo, the biggest news for Abloh in 2017 is The Ten, his sneaker partnership with Nike. Abloh re-creates 10 of Nike’s iconic silhouettes in a work-in-progress style, each adorned with a safety tag around the laces. The limited release leaves the sneaker market hungry for more, and Abloh hosts panels and workshops with Nike and additional releases throughout the year.”

In 2018, Abloh was tapped to be artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s men’s fashion, and it was this platform where Abloh perfected his social messaging. In 2020, Abloh channeled activist and author James Baldwin to harness the hearts of those pushing for social change in a year of uncertainty and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

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Legacy

In the wake of Abloh’s death the fashion industry is reeling and will be examining its identity in the months to come. Abloh’s ability to take fashion and turn it into a story was singular, but it’s launched a world of possibilities for other designers.

With his passing ends the era of his magical storytelling, but it doesn’t end his legacy. There are designers just dipping their toes in the industry today who will find Abloh’s legacy an inspiration. In the trying times we find ourselves in, voices and minds like Abloh are a balm against the pain of change and the uncertainty of the future. Even though he’s gone, his work remains to remind us that the world around us is an experience we can’t choose, but we pick the lens through which we view it. Abloh’s last show is expected to launch at Art Basel December 1, at Project Maybach. Project Maybach was a collaboration between Mercedes-Mayback and the designer, an electric car show. On November 30, Miami will also play host to a spin-off Louis Vuitton show, presenting the Spring and Summer ’22 menswear collection. This show will include 14 extra looks designed by Abloh specifically for the event.

What would have once been worth seeing by any metric is now a must-see; Abloh’s last work will have to sustain us for a lifetime. CELEB sends our condolences to the friends, family, and loved ones of Virgil Abloh; truly, a visionary for our time.

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