US fashion designer Virgil Abloh, the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection, died Sunday after battling cancer for several years aged 41, the fashion and luxury house’s French owners LVMH announced.
“We are all shocked by this terrible news. Virgil was not only a genius designer, a visionary, but also a man with a beautiful soul and great wisdom,” LVMH chief executive Bernard Arnault said 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,” he added in the statement posted on LVMH’s Twitter account.
The group said he had been “battling privately” the cancer for several years.
Abloh, famed for bringing streetwear to the glitz of the catwalk, was the first black American creative director of a top French fashion house when he was chosen to be artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection in 2018.
His parents had immigrated to the United States from Ghana.
LVMH also announced earlier this year it was taking a majority stake in the luxury streetwear label Off-White created by Abloh. LVMH took 60-percent stake in Off-White and Abloh retained 40 percent.
Abloh has addressed both environmental and social issues in his work with Louis Vuitton, with anti-racist and anti-homophobia messages at his January show in Paris.
He said earlier this year he planned to use his partnership with LVMH “to expand opportunities for diverse individuals and foster greater equity and inclusion in the industries we serve”.