Virgil Abloh: Yeezy designer dies at 41

Image copyright AFP Image caption Abloh was nominated for the 2018 Designers’ Award of the Young Fashion Designers Of The Year

Virgil Abloh, the creative director for Louis Vuitton and Off-White clothing companies, has died at the age of 41.

The founder and chief executive of Off-White, designer of Yeezy clothes and OuShu – the latest collaboration between Kanye West and designer Virgil, died on Tuesday after a lengthy battle with cancer.

In 2016, he was named artistic director for Vuitton’s women’s and men’s collections.

The fashion industry has been left stunned by the death of an emerging star.

Hailed by critics as an innovator and influence, Abloh spent a decade developing a growing career as a contemporary designer.

He began his career as an assistant designer for Louis Vuitton’s contemporary brand Carven, before moving on to creative director of streetwear brand Balenciaga.

In 2011, he and Kanye West joined forces for Off-White, a brand he launched in 2010.

He helped Kanye West to achieve fame, awards and a household name and, in the process, his own brand of “alpha, genius and adrenaline”.

His 2013 collaboration with West’s wife Kim Kardashian for the KARMA collection sold out in just minutes online, generating 70,000 pre-orders, making it one of the most popular designs at the time.

“I was always aware that fashion is a child of music,” he told New York Magazine in 2015.

“Music has always just fit inside clothes and textiles and translated it into something that really speaks to people in a profound way, not just in an interior way.”

Abloh was named French Minister of Enterprise by Prime Minister Édouard Philippe in 2015 and he later became involved in the Paris Saint-Germain project.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Virgil was known for his collaborations with Kanye West, including the Yeezy line

He was also nominated for the 2018 Designers’ Award of the Young Fashion Designers Of The Year.

What has the industry said?

American fashion editor Sally Singer called him a “more-than-capable” younger brother.

Another A-lister, Bethann Hardison, described Abloh as a “phenomenal talent” who would never live down his association with West.

American fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger also lauded Abloh for his creative vision and his artistic talents.

Designer Alexander Wang said Abloh was “very big in the world of fashion”.

American celebrity photographer Terry Richardson was also swift to pay tribute, saying Abloh’s life and the work he did “was truly a testament to his artistry”.

Earlier this year, Abloh’s Off-White collaboration with streetwear label Billionaire Boys Club was labelled “the most disgusting, revolting and disgusting collection” at New York Fashion Week.

What about Louis Vuitton?

Vivienne Westwood described Abloh as “everything good about fashion” and described him as a legend.

His appointment as creative director of women’s and men’s collections, in 2016, was welcomed by industry insiders.

In a release posted on Louis Vuitton’s official Instagram account, Jean-Louis Dumas, president and CEO of the parent company LVMH, described the arrival of Abloh at the French luxury group as “an exceptional moment for the maison”.

Since taking up the role, Abloh helped design the collection for the house’s annual show in 2017.

His responsibilities included selecting and commissioning new collections for the brand’s women’s and men’s menswear lines, as well as leading a specialised division.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Abloh was named Louis Vuitton’s artistic director in 2016

His responsibilities increased last year to include women’s accessories, denim, footwear and handbags.

MOUSE GUARD #MLGNovember16 A post shared by Virgil Abloh (@virgilabloh) on Nov 17, 2017 at 8:04am PST

Other posts on Instagram from his favourite TV show Westworld, the veteran actress Lauren Bacall and the secret of happiness – talcum powder – were also a surprise hit with fans.

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