Louis Vuitton’s design director, famed Off-White designer Virgil Abloh, dies after cancer battle

Virgil Abloh, a former Off-White designer who went on to become Louis Vuitton’s artistic director, has died after a battle with cancer, according to a statement published Tuesday by his longtime company, Off-White. Abloh…

Louis Vuitton's design director, famed Off-White designer Virgil Abloh, dies after cancer battle

Virgil Abloh, a former Off-White designer who went on to become Louis Vuitton’s artistic director, has died after a battle with cancer, according to a statement published Tuesday by his longtime company, Off-White.

Abloh founded the Los Angeles-based line in 2008, initially collaborating with Kanye West before signing a design deal with Vuitton. He created three womenswear and three menswear collections for the French fashion house. In August, just days after his 41st birthday, the label posted a photo of the designer on Instagram wearing a Louis Vuitton tank top and with the caption “I left free to lead, You will follow.”

Abloh became a “guest curator” for Louis Vuitton shows in Paris, and recently edited a book of his musings on the brand’s roots.

Born in Potsdam, Germany, Abloh was one of eight children. His father, Melvin, had originally been a police officer in Germany, but left after discovering he could speak no English. Melvin left Germany, moved to South Africa and worked as a cloakroom attendant in Johannesburg’s police department.

In a profile for Vogue, Abloh talked about his mother’s style, saying, “She was a globalist. … She once said, ‘There’s no point in talking to someone who doesn’t think fashion.’ And I thought, ‘That’s good advice.’”

Abloh’s mother was a “workaholic,” he said, and eventually settled in Los Angeles, where he and his siblings grew up. He said she was not put off by his profession, attributing his early success to his “understanding and respect for women.”

When he was 18, Abloh started a study titled “The Art of the Turn,” which focuses on the art of shaping people’s experiences through fashion, he wrote in “Manifesto”: “I will not ask my ‘donor’ to sign the contract, despite the payment, but I will announce the value of my work.”

Vuitton and Off-White sent out tweets Tuesday mourning Abloh’s death.

The full statement from Abloh’s Off-White:

VIRGIL ABLOH PASSES AWAY

Venice, LA (Oct. 9) – Off-White and Vuitton are very saddened to announce the passing of Virgil Abloh. Full statement to come. pic.twitter.com/ALdFbBuPwJ — Off-White (@OffWhite) October 9, 2018

Abloh leaves behind his wife, Alvina, and three children.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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