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R.I.P. Virgil Abloh, Fashion Designer and Kanye West Collaborator Dead at 41

The Chicago native "valiantly battled a rare, aggressive form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma"

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Virgil Abloh with Kanye
Kanye West with Virgil Abloh, photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

    Fashion designer Virgil Abloh has died following a private two-year battle with cancer. He was 41.

    According to a statement released by Abloh’s family, he “valiantly battled a rare, aggressive form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma. He chose to endure his battle privately since his diagnosis in 2019, undergoing numerous challenging treatments, all while helming several significant institutions that span fashion, art, and culture.”

    Born in Rockford, Illinois, to Ghanaian immigrant parents, Abloh graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering, and later received his Master of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology. While working at a Chicago print shop, Abloh met rapper Kanye West, which marked the beginning of a close friendship and creative partnership between the two men. After the two interned together at Fendi in 2009, Kanye appointed Abloh the creative director of his creative agency, DONDA.

    Abloh conceptualized the artwork for several of Kanye’s albums, including the ones for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Watch the Throne, and Yeezus. He was also involved in the creation of the stage design for Kanye West and JAY-Z’s “Watch the Throne Tour,” as well as much of the merchandise sold by Kanye during that era.

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    In 2013, Abloh moved to Milan and opened his first fashion house, Off/White. The high-end streetwear brand was known for its use of written quotation marks, zip-ties, and barricade tape, and collaborations with the likes of Nike and IKEA.

    In 2018, Abloh was named artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear ready wear line, making him the first person of African descent to lead the line. A number of musicians participated in Abloh’s first runway show for Louis Vuitton, including Kid Cudi, Playboi Carti, and Dev Hynes.

    Even as his fashion career took off, Abloh remained involved in music. He designed album covers for A$AP Rocky (Long.Live.A$AP.), Lil Uzi Vert (Luv Is Rage 2), and Pop Smoke (Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon). He also DJ’ed, and briefly hosted a radio show on Apple Music.

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