Virgil Abloh's Widow Shannon Honors His 'Tremendous Sense of Purpose' 4 Months After His Death

The late Off-White designer's wife praised his commitment to "opening doors for others" during a speech at the Fashion Scholarship Fund 85th Annual Awards

Virgil Abloh poses after the Louis Vuitton Menswear Spring/Summer 2019 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on June 21, 2018 in Paris, France.
Virgil Abloh. Photo: Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty

Virgil Abloh's widow paid tribute to the late designer just months after his death at age 41 in November after a two-year battle with cancer.

"One of the things I always admired about Virgil was his deep sense of compassion and care for others," Shannon Abloh shared during a speech at the Fashion Scholarship Fund's 85th Annual Awards on Monday in New York City.

She continued, "He believed that being a leader meant serving others in need. And he felt a tremendous sense of purpose in opening doors for others."

According to Shannon, 40, "When he would say, 'Everything legacy left behind I do is for the 17-year-old version of myself,' he of course wasn't talking about himself. He was talking about every young person who has ever dreamed of becoming something … but felt discouraged because they couldn't see themselves represented in these industries."

In 2018, Abloh became the first African American to lead a European fashion house when he became Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton Mens.

Shannon Abloh
Matteo Prandoni/

Monday's ceremony, which was hosted by Tony Award-winning actress Renée Elise Goldsberry, honored the impact the Off-White founder and celebrated the designer's contribution as an FSF Board member.

Abloh also created the "Post-Modern" Scholarship Fund in 2020 in partnership with FSF to "foster equity and inclusion across the fashion industry by providing funds, career support, and mentoring Black students," per a press release.

"Founding the "Post-Modern" Scholarship Fund represented a major milestone for Virgil and his work," said Shannon. "His dream is to establish an institution that would help to make fashion a more equal, more inclusive place."

She added, "It meant the world to him to be able to provide scholarships for Black students because he believed deeply in the power of education."

Matteo Prandoni/

The event was also attended by Anna Wintour, Neiman Marcus Group CEO Geoffroy van Raemdonck (who was also honored for his contributions to FSF) and designer Tremain Emory.

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When the Abloh family announced the designer's death in November on Instagram, they wrote, "We are devastated to announce the passing of our beloved Virgil Abloh, a fiercely devoted father, husband, son, brother, and friend."

The post noted, "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."

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