Virgil Abloh, Louis Vuitton and Off-White designer, dies

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Abloh was creative director of the show for the spring/summer 2019 women’s collection during New York Fashion Week in September

Virgil Abloh, the creative director of Louis Vuitton and Off-White, has died of cancer aged 41.

The menswear designer was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma at the end of last year.

He was a partner at Off-White and, prior to that, he was creative director of Dior Homme.

Abloh had a strong public profile and appeared on many magazine covers, most notably GQ and GQ Men’s Man of the Year.

He co-founded Off-White with Virgil Abloh Dries Van Noten In 2009 as a specialised purveyor of streetwear.

In 2012, he joined Louis Vuitton as a creative director, followed by his appointment as artistic director of its women’s line in September 2017.

“Mr Abloh died yesterday, his agent confirmed on Tuesday,” said a statement released by Abloh’s agency, The Firm.

“He will be remembered by his clients, colleagues and many friends across the fashion industry as one of the brightest creative talents the industry has ever known.”

Image copyright Vogue Image caption Abloh was an influential figure in the Made in America fashion shows

‘Almost allergic to sell outs’

Louis Vuitton’s deputy brand director, Olivier Theyskens, paid tribute to Abloh, who also was creative director of Balenciaga at one point.

“He’s a very beautiful man, very sensitive, very sensitive on behalf of the people that he worked with.

“He gave a new definition to menswear, which was always about luxe, about the man and about the athlete.

“What he did was never about the usual practices that sell out, which many companies are doing today, almost allergic to sell outs, almost allergic to anything that is more commercial or easier, because he always thought it was more important to talk about the man and the artisan.

“I think, in general, there’s a huge shock from people who didn’t know Virgil very well or even know him, that he was a highly intelligent man who was so passionate about what he did and how he thought fashion should be dressed and how fashion should be seen, a very challenging way to do it.”

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Abloh was known for his obsession with obscure celebrity tattoos

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Theyskens said Abloh was more passionate about showing the work of important artists than just selling out

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Abloh “never wanted to sell out”

Theyskens, a former Givenchy designer, added: “I personally, from the very beginning, had the feeling that he was invincible – I knew that he would come back and he would have his time of domination.

“He wanted to make an impact. He never wanted to sell out and I think he fulfilled that wish.”

This article was first published on the Alphaville blog.

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