George Kolasa, a longtime luxury fashion corporate executive, has died from an aggressive brain tumor. He was 57.
His death was announced Wednesday on his Instagram page, where he had spent the past year chronicling his battle with glioblastoma multiforme.
“It is with a broken heart that we share the news of George’s passing,” the post read, accompanied by two photos of Kolasa. “He left as he lived — in peace, love, light, gratitude and with Justin by his side.”
“GEORGE WILLIAM KOLASA – YOU HAVE LIFTED US ALL HIGHER. ❤️,” the message continued. “George wanted nothing more than to continue his mission to beat rare cancers.”
Mourners are encouraged to donate to Team George Kolasa at Cycle For Survival, an indoor cycling event in partnership with Equinox and Memorial Sloan Kettering that aims to bring awareness to rare cancers.
His husband, Justin Tarquinio, also shared a touching Instagram post Wednesday.
“My dearest George….how lucky am I that you chose me,” he wrote, in part.
Throughout his career, Kolasa brought his marketing genius to brands such as Ralph Lauren, Burberry, Karl Lagerfeld, and Tommy Hilfiger.
He was diagnosed in February 2022, following a sailing trip to Florida, where he felt his balance was off and the left side of his body was paralyzed, according to his Cycle for Survival page.
Doctors discovered he had a brain tumor the size of a grapefruit, which was later determined to be malignant.
Typically, those diagnosed with glioblastomas are given 12 to 15 months to live, per Penn Medicine. They are usually very aggressive tumors that grow into the surrounding tissue of the brain.
“It’s been almost a year and a half since my diagnosis, I have completed radiation and chemotherapy treatment,” Kolasa wrote on his Cycle for Survival page.
“My journey with Glioblastoma is still unfolding. Some days I feel like me, others it’s more difficult to connect the dots. I still can’t believe I have brain cancer. Though, in what should be the darkest of times, I have never been filled with more hope, light and energy as I am surrounded by love.”
Kolasa became a “touchstone among cancer patients, survivors, and their loved ones,” as he was extremely open about his battle with the disease, according to WWD. He also became a guide and strived to help non-cancer patients in whatever way he could.
In an interview with Vogue last year, he shared how his life had changed — but his spirit never seemed to wane.
“Gratitude is such an important word for me,” he told the outlet. “I am so grateful to be sitting here talking to you about this today.”
“To share my purpose and mission to beat rare cancers,” he continued. “With whatever shall be the rest of my life and for as long as I can do it I want to raise a lot of money to fund new trials and research. It’s now my calling—to stay kind through it all and to help others.”
His friend and Bravo producer Andy Cohen shared a loving tribute to Kolasa Wednesday on Instagram.
“Inspiring may seem like an odd word choice, but George was so at peace with himself and what was to be — dare I say he found whatever joy he could out of something decidedly UNjoyful,” Cohen wrote, in part. “But that was who George was.”
“The love he shared with his husband Justin lifted up all who knew them,” his message continued. “He wanted his legacy to be his contribution to helping fight rare cancers, so I’m putting the link to his fund raising drive in my bio. Life is so precious. I feel like George was randomly picked out of line and showed us all what it’s like to live within courage and light.”
Kolasa is survived by Tarquinio and a brother, according to WWD.