The designer, who had worked as a male artistic director at Louis Vuitton since 2018, had been battling the disease privately for several years, French fashion conglomerate LVMH said on Sunday.
He is also the founder of the fashion brand Off White.
LVMH said in a statement: “LVMH, Louis Vuitton and Off White are devastated to announce the death of Virgil Abloh on Sunday November 28 from cancer, which he had been fighting in private for several years.
The American designer first rose to prominence as the creative director of rapper Kanye West, but later made history as the first African-American to lead French luxury brand Louis Vuitton.
He was diagnosed with cardiac angiosarcoma – a rare and aggressive form of cancer in 2019, it was revealed.
Gigi Hadid and Justin Timberlake were among those who paid tribute on Sunday night.
Model Hadid shared a series of photos of them together and wrote: “I am heartbroken at the loss of my dear friend and friend of the world, Virgil Abloh. He was 1 in 1. ”
Justin Timberlake also paid tribute, writing, “What can you say when a force like @virgilabloh is taken too soon?
“You have given so much to the world in such a short time. And created with intensity… knowing better than all of us that life is short, but anything is possible.
A message from Bernard Arnault, the CEO of LVMH, said: “We are all shocked after this terrible news. Virgil was not only a brilliant designer, a visionary, he was also a man with a beautiful soul and great wisdom.
“The LVMH family joins me in this moment of great sadness, and we all think of those close to them after the death of their husband, father, brother or friend.
“He is survived by his beloved wife Shannon Abloh, his children Lowe Abloh and Gray Abloh, his sister Edwina Abloh, his parents Nee and Eunice Abloh, and many dear friends and colleagues.
“For more than two years, Virgil valiantly fought a rare and aggressive form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma. He has chosen to wage his battle privately since his diagnosis in 2019, undergoing many difficult treatments, while also leading several important institutions that span fashion, art and culture.
“Through it all, his work ethic, endless curiosity and optimism have never wavered. “
He added: “Virgil was motivated by his dedication to his craft and his mission to open doors for others and create pathways for greater equality in art and design.
“He would often say, ‘Everything I do is for the 17-year-old version of myself,’ deeply believing in the power of art to inspire future generations.
“We thank you all for your love and support, and we ask for privacy as we mourn and celebrate the life of Virgil. “