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Updated: Nov 29, 2021


Ground breaking creative, visionary and Genius Black designer who not only transformed fashion, but the culture of luxury designer, Virgil Abhol, has passed at the age of 41 years old on November 28, 2021 due to an aggressive and rare cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma.

It was announced through his Instagram account (@virgilabloh) November 28, 2021: "For over two years, Virgil valiantly battled a rare, aggressive form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma. 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."

September 30, 1980, Virgil Abhol was born to Nee and Eunice Abhol, both immigrants from Ghana, in Rockford, Illinois. Although Virgil Abhol’s passion lies in fashion, he studied Civil Engineering at the University of Wisconsin and later earned his master’s in architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology. Abhol learned fashion though, through his mother, Eunice Abhol, who was a seamstress that went on to teach him the basics of the trade.

Fashion was never just a statement for Abhol and his work. It is the epitome of self-expression, an extension of the self. Fashion is the symbol that serves as an emblem to our person and who we are. His journey in fashion started at 22 years old, when he met Kanye West. This relationship set him on the road to success as Kanye West signed a deal in 2009 for a sneaker collaboration with Louis Vuitton that introduced Virgil Abhol to the fashion industry as this collaboration was the talk of fashion week during its time.

Upon interning at Fendi with Kanye West for six months and $500 per month pay, Abhol was able to learn the industry inside and out, eventually leading to how he was able to make a name for himself in luxury designer. In 2010, Virgil Abhol became creative director of Donda, Kanye West’s brand of contemporary fashion and streetwear. During his stay at Donda, Abhol was able to inspire and create, not just fashion but a legacy. 2 years later a creative collective, Been Trill was turned into a brand named Pyrex Vision, which was an art project in origin that became one of the most popular and well-known trademarks “Off White”.

Most known for the use of quotation marks, Off White isn’t just a streetwear brand, but an artistic collaborative journey and an example of Abhol’s genius. As per New York times, Abhol was an strong believer of the “three percent rule” and Harvard Lecture Cheat Codes which is the “idea that that you can take an existing design and change it just a bit and it will qualify as new.” This was Off-White. Taking streetwear and making it designer.

Off White has become of the most significant brands in fashion that elegantly blended streetwear and high-end fashion with immortalizing collaborations with the likes of Nike, Evian and Louis Vuitton, etc. “Virgil is incredibly good at creating bridges between the classic and the zeitgeist of the moment,” Chief Executive of Louis Vuitton, Michael Burke.

It was said by Abhol, “I was adamant. This isn’t a streetwear brand. This isn’t a contemporary brand. This is designer, just the same way that X,Y,Z are designer, where you say their name and it carries this whole esteem and emotion to it.”

Honored as Time Magazine’s One of the Most Influential People, Virgil Abhol appealed to his following first, gaining love and respect of over 6.5 million followers. He knew it was through his consumers and fan base that he would make the most impact as he preferred to go straight to consumers and allow for establishments to follow. Which they sure did as Abhol later became artistic director for Louis Vuitton Men’s Wear.

It was through his passion for fashion that changed the culture of it and the faces that were creating fashion too. Abhol’s work did not stop in fashion though, as his goal was to inspire a whole generation. His legacy was further established through his “Figures of Speech exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and his “Post Modern” Scholarship Fund which raised $1 million to encourage Black students in fashion.

After privately battling an aggressive and rare form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma, for 2 years through numerous challenging treatments, Abhol leaves behind a legacy, as he said to the New York Times, “There are people around this room who look like me. You never saw that before in fashion. The people have changed and so fashion had to.”

Virgil Abhol’s survivors are his wife Shannon Abhol, his two beautiful children, Lowe and Grey Abhol, over 1,500 students and over 6.5 million people who followed his journey and witnessed his greatness as he changed the face of luxury designer.


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