'A once in a generation creative mind': Kanye West, more stars mourn designer Virgil Abloh

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The fashion world is paying tribute to Virgil Abloh, the trailblazing Louis Vuitton director who died Sunday at age 41.

Abloh, the artistic director for Louis Vuitton menswear and founder and CEO of fashion house Off-White, died after a private battle with a “rare, aggressive form of cancer,” according to social media posts from the brands.

He was a pioneer in the fashion world, serving as the first Black artistic director to lead Louis Vuitton menswear, just one of two people of color in charge of a major fashion house (along with Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing) at the time of his appointment. The same year, he was named a Time 100 Most Influential People honoree.

Abloh was a longtime collaborator and friend of Kanye West – the two met while interning for Fendi, and Abloh went on to design several of the rapper’s iconic album covers.

West honored Abloh at the end of his livestreamed Sunday Service performance with a title card that read “In loving memory of Virgil Abloh, the creative director of Donda.”

USA TODAY has reached out to West’s representatives for further comment.

Virgil Abloh dies at 41: Trailblazing Louis Vuitton director had privately battled cancer

Hailey Bieber, who wore a custom Abloh design for her 2018 wedding to Justin Bieber, shared old photos of the two alongside a lengthy tribute.

“Virgil completely changed the way I looked at street style and fashion, the way he looked at things inspired me deeply,” she wrote. “I will never be able to fully express how grateful I am to have known him and worked with him, from walking on his runways to having him design my wedding dress and all the other amazing moments in between, I felt he was always rooting for me.”

Bieber added: “He was someone who always brought life, charisma, love and fun to any situation, and every room he walked into. A once in a generation creative mind that is so rare and I’ll never forget his impact. We love you Virgil.”

Colman Domingo, who modeled Abloh’s designs for Louis Vuitton’s Paris Fashion Week show over the summer, shared photos of himself wearing the vibrant looks “in honor of Virgil.”

“He made me feel so fly. A master craftsman,” Domingo added. “Thank you for your artistry.”

BTS, who modeled Abloh’s designs in a Louis Vuitton show over the summer in Seoul, called the designer “a true creative genius.”

“You will be missed,” read a tweet on the group’s Twitter account. “It was an honor to work with you.”

BTS hits the runway:The group models new looks in Louis Vuitton’s latest menswear show in Seoul

Amanda Gorman reflected on feeling “so privileged to have met you and to have worn such a beautiful piece by you designed in honor of your grandmother” on the cover of Vogue in May.

“I knew then I was experiencing the honor of wearing a designer whose work transcends both past and present,” Gorman added. “To rephrase something you once said, let us paint new pictures where the old ones have been erased. Rest in power king.”

Jay-Z’s entertainment company, Roc Nation, dubbed Abloh “forever an icon.”

Pharrell Williams tweeted that his “heart is broken.”

“Virgil you were a kind, generous, thoughtful creative genius your work as a human and your work as a spiritual being will live forever,” Williams added. “Sending love and light to your wife, children, family … You’re with the Master now, shine.”

Victoria Beckham called the designer “a true inspiration in so many ways.”

“Rest in peace @virgilabloh,” Beckham added. “Sending love and light to your beautiful family 🙏🏼 We will all miss you so very much x”

“My plan is to touch the sky 1000 more times for you,” Drake wrote on Instagram. “love you eternally brother, thank you for everything.”

“Too soon Virgil,” tweeted Idris Elba. “You will be missed from this world man.”

Kehlani called Abloh’s death “shocking.”

“This is a devastating loss to culture and fashion,” wrote Tracee Ellis Ross. “What an inspiration.”

Justin Timberlake dubbed Abloh a “force … taken too soon.”

“You gave the world so much, in so little time,” Timberlake added. “And created with intensity … knowing better than the rest of us that life is short, but anything is possible. I’m honored to have known you. Thank you for sharing your gift with us.”

Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian, Ty Dolla $ign, DJ Khaled, The Weeknd, Katie Couric and Busta Ryhmes also paid tribute.

Fashion brands and designers mourned Abloh on social media.

“We are all shocked after this terrible news,” said Louis Vuitton CEO Bernard Arnault in a statement on social media. “Virgil was not only a genius designer, a visionary, he was also a man with a beautiful soul and great wisdom.”

Designer Sergio Hudson called Abloh “one of the sweetest most giving souls I’ve ever encountered on this journey through fashion.”

“Wow … bro we were just talking about our new collections and exchanging home products and now you are gone,” he wrote on Instagram. “This cannot be real. Your advice and encouraging words were priceless and will never be forgotten.”

Hudson added: “You told me my destiny was set all I had to do was walk through the door. Those words gave me the confidence to ask for what I wanted and to push even harder. You may be gone in flesh but your breakthrough moments and incredible legacy are solidified in our memories and in history forever. RIP my friend.”

Edward Enninful, editor in chief of British Vogue, said Abloh “changed the fashion industry” and celebrated the designer’s prolific achievements.

“He always worked for a greater cause than his own illustrious career: to open the door to art and fashion for future generations, so that they – unlike himself – would grow up in a creative world with people to mirror themselves in,” Enninful wrote. “Virgil believed that anything was possible for humankind, if only we could tear ourselves away from unconscious biases and norms and reassume the imagination we had as children. His achievements won’t just live on. They will continue to evolve, because we are only seeing the beginning of his impact on the creative industries and surrounding world.”

Gucci’s official accounts wrote a tribute to Abloh, extending “our most heartfelt condolences to the loved ones of Virgil Abloh, an immense inspiration to us all both as a designer and as a person.”

The brand added: “He will be deeply missed though his vision will live on through the trails that he blazed throughout his career.”

Donatella Versace wrote she was ” lost for words.”

“The world has lost a fashion superstar,” she said on Instagram, alongside a photo of herself and Naomi Campbell with the designer. “An innovator. A creator for the history books. I am thinking of all your loved ones on this tragic day. Love, Donatella”

The Council of Fashion Designers of America, for which Abloh served as a member of the board, also paid tribute.

Elle editor in chief Nina García penned a tribute to Abloh, highlighting “your creativity, your infinite sense of curiosity, your love for design, your impeccable work ethic and your enormous generosity” that shaped a creative universe” and “challenged old misconceptions about how fashion should establish a dialogue with other disciplines.”

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