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Virgil Abloh‘s wife has broken her silence in time for the one-year anniversary of his death. Shannon Abloh spoke to The New York Times about the late designer’s battle with cancer, his legacy and more.

Virgil died November 28, 2021, from a rare form of cancer called cardiac angiosarcoma. Despite learning about his diagnosis in 2019, they kept mum to prevent his closest friends from consistently asking, “Are you OK?” Shannon says they were aware of the uphill battle, but had no clue it would end abruptly.

“It wasn’t like we knew that he was going to pass,” she said. “Even though we knew the challenge of what he was fighting, it went a lot faster than we thought it was going to.” Virgil’s sudden death, she added, came before they were able to have the “this is the legacy that I want you to work toward” discussion.

While reflecting on her last years with Virgil, Shannon says she’s grateful for the time they spent together during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“I know that COVID was an incredibly hard thing for so many people. But for us it was an amazing time because Virgil didn’t have to make excuses to get out of shows or DJ-ing,” she said. “No one could go anywhere. So we were able to have those last two and a half years.”

Shannon’s now focused on carrying on Virgil’s legacy, most recently launching a four-day festival at Miami Art Week intended to celebrate his life and ideas.

“I think that it’s important that my kids are able to see in 20 years what their dad was able to do and that Mom really stepped up,” she said. “ … through everything, through all the grief, she was able to pull it together and move forward.”

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