Kanye West, Rihanna and Drake are among many celebrities who pay tribute to American fashion designer Virgil Abloh, who has died at the age of 41 after a private battle with cancer.
Influential Louis Vuitton menswear designer and founder of fashion brand Off-White was diagnosed with cardiac angiosarcoma – a rare, aggressive form of cancer – in 2019, the design house’s parent company LVMH revealed on Sunday.
Abloh first appeared as the creative director of rapper West, but later made history as the first African-American to lead the French luxury brand Louis Vuitton.
West paid tribute to him with a message on the website of his creative agency Donda, which showed a gray background with the words: “IN LOVING MEMORY OF VIRGIL ABLOH THE CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF DONDA.”
West’s Sunday Service Choir performed a cover of Adele’s Easy On Me, which was livestreamed in his honor on Sunday, according to NME.
Their cover was a reworked version of the song’s original lyrics, where the choir sang “Go easy on me, father, I am still your child, and I need the chance to feel your love around” in the chorus.
Abloh was often hailed as one of the most influential designers in the fashion industry, but was also a DJ, artist and had a degree in civil engineering and architecture.
He was a DJ at house parties through college, later playing internationally, including in Ibiza and Las Vegas.
A first-generation Ghanaian American whose Syrian mother taught him to sew, Abloh had no formal fashion education, but was successful in pioneering fusions of streetwear and haute couture.
Drake shared a series of photos of himself with Abloh and said, “My plan is to touch the sky 1000 times more for you … love you forever brother. Thank you for everything.”
“My heart is broken,” said musician and producer Pharrell.
“Virgil, you were a kind, generous, thoughtful creative genius. Your work as a human being and your work as a spiritual being will live forever. Sending love and light to your wife, children, family and days. You are with the Master now, shining . “
Supermodel Gigi Hadid said he “will be deeply missed, loved and celebrated by me and all the people and industries who have been fortunate to work around and know the true supernova behind this man”.
She added: “I imagine him now as our Mickey Mouse … forever with us, forever loved, forever magical, forever to guide us.”
“RIP Virgil, you did so much for all of us and showed me so much love early on,” tweeted British rapper AJ Tracey. “Thank you for everything, so sad.”
Justin Timberlake called him a “force” that was “taken too soon” and added: “You gave the world so much, in such a short time. And created with intensity … better knowing than the rest of us that life is short, but anything is possible.
“I am honored to have known you. Thank you for sharing your gift with us.”
Rihanna shared a photo of the designer from her Instagram stories.
The American musician Questlove wrote on Instagram: “The teachable lesson here is disturbing. Provocate. Be controversial. Press buttons. Be a piece of conversation … live like a real artist.”
A statement on Abloh’s Instagram page said his “work ethic, endless curiosity and optimism” never wavered during his illness.
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It said he was driven by “his dedication to his craft … his mission to open doors for others and create paths to greater equality in art and design”.
Abloh’s latest Louis Vuitton collection, titled Virgil Was Here, will be unveiled in Miami on Tuesday.