DUBAI: Tributes from the Arab world, as well as part-Arab models, have poured in after it was announced on Sunday that Virgil Abloh, the US-Ghanaian founder of Off-White and the Men’s Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton, has died at 41.
He was privately battling a rare and aggressive form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma.
Despite his private battle with the illness, Abloh continued his creative pursuits. Earlier this month, he attended the opening of his retrospective exhibition “Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech,” in Doha. He was also due to present a runway show of his Spring 2022 collection in Miami for Art Basel.
Undeniably one of the most influential fashion designers of his era, the multi-hyphenate will also be remembered well beyond fashion, leaving a considerable impact on many people who had the opportunity to work with him or get to know him on a personal level.
Following the news of his death, a huge number of celebrities, fans and industry insiders took to social media to pay tribute to the designer.
Bella Hadid wrote on Instagram: “I’m at a loss .. 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: “You broke boundaries and made everything your own. You shared your love infinitely. The way your brain worked was beyond anything, and the way you did every single thing in life for your family, friends and for the better… We’re going to miss you a lot V. You really saw me and supported me on every level. As you did to so many of us. An ethereal light. You always inspired to keep pushing, work hard and be kind. No matter what. I’m thinking about, sending love and prayers to his beautiful Shannon, their kids, and the rest of the Abloh family. I’m devastated. You will be so missed and cherished V. FOR INFINITY… Fly high my Libra brother. I know you’re watching over the world now. I love you for life.”
Her older sister Gigi also took to the photo-sharing platform to pay homage to the designer, writing that she is “heartbroken by the loss of my dear friend and a friend to the world.”
She said: “He was 1 of 1. 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 and know the true supernova behind this man. I picture him now 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. You will continue to inspire me every day, V. I feel blessed and honored by every moment. Rest Easy, my friend. You are so loved. You were the difference. As we always said… ‘See you somewhere, soon’.”
Jordanian-Romanian footwear designer Amina Muaddi, who was in Doha with Abloh for the Fashion Trust Arabia only a couple of weeks ago, revealed that she sat in shock for hours following the news.
“I love you Virg. I sat in shock for the past hours because we spoke yesterday. I simply can’t use the past tense to describe you. Extraordinary spirits like yours rarely bless this Earth. A man with a mission who gave hope, dreams and tools to succeed to an entire new generation,” she wrote on Instagram.
“I told someone recently ‘Virgil is great…at everything.’ Because I don’t know how else to describe someone as multi-hyphenate, kind, talented, hard-working, humble, sweet and inspirational as you are. We were working on giving the world a project, we were having fun. Nobody made me want to dance like you. You’re probably redesigning the gates of Heaven right now. I’m praying for your family. Rest in Power King.”
Also honoring the late designer was part-Saudi model Shanina Shaik who reposted the news of Abloh’s passing on her Instagram Stories and captioned it: “My heart. Rest easy Virgil,” alongside the broken-hearted and dove emojis.
“Shocked and heartbroken,” said Lebanese model and humanitarian Jessica Kahawaty. “We just saw you in Qatar. No one knows the battles people fight behind closed doors. May you Rest In Peace.”
Lebanese fashion influencer and entrepreneur Karen Wazen also took the opportunity to remember Abloh by reposting one of his quotes on her Instagram Stories that read: “Life is so short you can’t even waste a day subscribing to what someone thinks you can do versus knowing what you can do.”
“We are devastated to announce the passing of our beloved Virgil Abloh, a fiercely devoted father, husband, son, brother, and friend,” said a statement on his Instagram account posted on Sunday. “He is survived by his loving wife Shannon Abloh, his children Lowe Abloh and Grey Abloh, his sister Edwina Abloh, his parents Nee and Eunice Abloh, and numerous dear friends and colleagues.
“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,” the statement reads. “Through it all, his work ethic, infinite curiosity, and optimism never wavered. Virgil was driven by his dedication to his craft and to his mission to open doors for others and create pathways for greater equality in art and design. He often said, “Everything I do is for the 17-year-old version of myself,” believing deeply in the power of art to inspire future generations.”