Virgil Abloh dies, Gigi and Bella Hadid pay tribute
Abloh, the American-born son of Ghanaian immigrants who rose to fame after becoming the creative mind behind Louis Vuitton's menswear collections, died on Sunday aged just 41, following a two-year battle with cancer.
"For over two years, Virgil valiantly battled a rare, aggressive form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma," an announcement posted to his Instagram account said.
"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."
Supermodels of Palestinian and Dutch heritage, Gigi and Bella Hadid shared memories of Abloh and spoke of their feelings of loss following the passing of their friend.
"I am heartbroken by the loss of my dear friend, and a friend to the world, Virgil Abloh. He was 1 of 1," she wrote.
"His kindness and energetic generosity left a lasting impression on every life he touched - he made everyone feel seen and special. He will be deeply missed, cherished, and celebrated by me and all the people and industries that have been lucky enough to work around & know the true supernova behind this man."
She said that she pictures him "like our Mickey Mouse... forever with us, forever adored, forever magical, forever guiding us with that special Virgil FUN; I'm sure that’s how he wanted to be remembered, but still it will never be the same without him in the room."
Her younger sister Bella said she felt "at loss" and was in disbelief by his passing.
"He was someone to everyone. That was the magic power he held. He made every person he came across feel special in whatever way he possibly could. Even when the world felt sad, he brought laughter and color and beauty."
"The way he made a positive impact on anything he touched, and always pushed for his culture/the world is the reason why he was an angel on earth and one to so many. The most beautiful warrior soul. I can't believe this", she added.
She honoured his artistic talent by describing him as someone who "broke boundaries and made everything your own. You shared your love infinitely. The way your brain worked was beyond anything"
After offering condolences to his family, she signed off her heartfelt message with " Fly high my Libra brother. I know you’re watching over the world now. I love you for life .🌎 "
Abloh also worked as a DJ and visual artist, and had been men's artistic director for Louis Vuitton since March 2018.
He founded the Italian luxury streetwear label Off-White and was a former collaborator with rapper and fashion designer Ye, formerly known as Kanye West.
"Virgil was not only a genius designer, a visionary, he was also a man with a beautiful soul and great wisdom," Bernard Arnault, the billionaire boss of Luis Vuitton's owner, said in a statement Sunday.
His arrival at Louis Vuitton in 2018 marked the marriage between streetwear and high-end fashion, mixing sneakers and camouflage trousers with tailored suits and evening gowns. His influences included graffiti art, hip hop, and skateboard culture.
The style was embraced by the group which normally embraces classic designs as it sought to modernise some of its labels and attract younger customers.
Earlier this month, he was in Qatar along with other A-list stars, including Naomi Campbell, to support young talent in the fashion industry.
Agencies (Reuters) contributed to this report.