Menswear | November 28, 2021 3:32 pm

Virgil Abloh, Acclaimed Menswear Designer, Dead at 41

He left a huge impact on the fashion world

Virgil Abloh
Virgil Abloh wears a white shirt, a black tie with 'A Formality' slogan, a black blazer jacket with multicolored buttons embroidered, black flared suit pants, a red ring, a gold watch, butterfly sunglasses, outside Louis Vuitton Parfum hosts dinner at Fondation Louis Vuitton.
Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

On Sunday afternoon, a shocking announcement reverberated through the world of fashion — and, more broadly, of popular culture as a whole. LVMH chairman Berard Arnault announced the death of Virgil Abloh at the age of 41. He had, the announcement read, been fighting cancer in private for the last few years. A post on his Instagram account revealed more details, including the rare form of cancer — cardiac angiosarcoma — with which he was diagnosed.

The news of Abloh’s death came just months after LVMH acquired 60 percent of his streetwear brand Off-White. Abloh was also the artistic director of Louis Vuitton men’s wear — though that description does not encapsulate the range of his interests or the reach of his influence. He did things like collaborating with artist Jenny Holzer — not exactly a regular occurrence in the world of fashion.

He was also a groundbreaking figure within his industry. As Vanessa Friedman wrote for the New York Times when the LVMH/Off-White deal went through, the maneuver resulted in Abloh becoming “the most powerful Black executive at the most powerful luxury goods group in the world.”

Following the announcement of Abloh’s death, a host of high-profile figures from the worlds of fashion, art and film took to social media to pay tribute to the late designer. Many of them spoke of his approachability and willingness to discuss all facets of art and culture. “He was always ready for a text message conversation about chair design or Architecture,” wrote artist Daniel Arsham on Instagram.

In a 2017 interview, Abloh spoke of a work routine that involved constant motion. “I literally have no desk in the world,” he said. “I work on the street, phone in hand.” That restlessness resulted in a transformative body of work — and a bold reimagining of what his chosen discipline could do.