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

·6 min read

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

Ye 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 Ye's representatives for further comment.

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

Virgil Abloh, right, poses with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West at the Louis Vuitton Menswear Spring/Summer 2019 show during Paris Fashion Week.
Virgil Abloh, right, poses with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West at the Louis Vuitton Menswear Spring/Summer 2019 show during Paris Fashion Week.

Kim Kardashian West mourned the death of Abloh on social media Monday with a touching tribute. "God doesn't make mistakes," she wrote. "I know that but I still can't help but ask why. Why Virgil?! Why him so soon?"

The KKW Beauty founder shared old photos of her with Kanye, Abloh and his wife, Shannon.

"Virgil - you were always so gentle, kind and calm. You somehow made time for everyone. We also talked about your superpower of calmness often," she continued.

Kardashian also sent "so much love" to Abloh's wife. "Because you loved and supported Virgil the way that you did, he was able to give so much of himself (to) everyone else," she wrote.

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 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."

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.

Victoria Beckham called the designer "a true inspiration in so many ways ... We will all miss you so very much."

"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 tweeted Sunday. "You will be missed from this world man."

On Monday, Elba paid tribute to the late designer at The Fashion Awards, saying that "the fashion industry lost an icon and the world lost a legend." Elba also read the poem When Great Trees Fall by Maya Angelou.

Elba concluded the tribute by saying that "anyone who knew Virgil would know that we would want to celebrate tonight in honor of his life."

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."

Gigi Hadid said she was "heartbroken by the loss of my dear friend" Abloh.

"He was 1 of 1," Hadid wrote in an Instagram tribute, along with photos of the two. "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 & know the true supernova behind this man."

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

(L-R) Karlie Kloss, Virgil Abloh, and Joan Smalls attend the Louis Vuitton Dinner Mens SS19 Temporary Residency on January 09, 2019 in New York City.
(L-R) Karlie Kloss, Virgil Abloh, and Joan Smalls attend the Louis Vuitton Dinner Mens SS19 Temporary Residency on January 09, 2019 in New York City.
Rita Ora and Virgil Abloh after the Louis Vuitton Menswear Spring/Summer 2019 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on June 21, 2018 in Paris, France.
Rita Ora and Virgil Abloh after the Louis Vuitton Menswear Spring/Summer 2019 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on June 21, 2018 in Paris, France.

Fashion brands and designers mourned Abloh on social media.

"Virgil was not only a genius designer, a visionary, he was also a man with a beautiful soul and great wisdom," Louis Vuitton CEO Bernard Arnault said in a statement on social media.

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

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."

Edward Enninful, editor in chief of British Vogue, said Abloh "changed the fashion industry" and celebrated the designer's achievements.

"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," Enninful wrote. "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, calling him "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"

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."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Virgil Abloh mourned by Kanye West, Kardashians, Hailey Bieber, BTS

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