Sunday’s devastating news on the passing of Virgil Abloh left many of us in shock and at a loss for words. As the announcement settled, fans, supporters and industry professionals shared think pieces to honor Abloh, but words just didn’t seem to do it justice. Many celebrities, who were also friends of Abloh, weighed in and wrote heartfelt tributes on social media about how Abloh touched them along his journey, yet nothing seemed to fully cover the greatness Abloh possessed – no words would. The only thing that would come close to fully capturing his essence was the designer’s final Louis Vuitton show taking place in Miami two days later.
Abloh’s tribe gathered in Miami to see the fashion show during the kickoff of the annual Art Basel. VIP guests were escorted in on a yacht as the location was surrounded by a body of water. Attendees were dressed in Louis Vuitton designs, and Virgil’s past work, like North West, who wore one of Pyrex Vision’s first t-shirts and the brand’s signature shorts. This was probably one of the most star-studded fashion shows the industry has witnessed in a while. In the well-dressed crowd, you could find Kanye West, Pharrell, Kerby Jean-Raymond, and Jerry Lorenzo, and on the runway you would see Offset, Quavo, A$AP Nast, and Kid Cudi, who performed after the show, along with Erykah Badu.
Now onto the presentation, the catwalk was prefaced with a video, and those who were unable to attend were able to tune into Louis Vuitton’s livestream. The camera followed a curious young boy, who traveled around the city on a bike until he found his way into a hot air balloon branded with the LV logo. The same hot air balloon was present off to the side at the show and stood as a smooth transition for what was to follow. Models hit the runway and the first couple of looks walked to a voiceover narrated by Abloh himself. “I’ve been on this focus in terms of my art and creativity of getting adults to behave like children again,” said Abloh. “That they go back into this sense of wonderment. They start to stop using their minds and start using their imagination.”
His words made the perfect introduction for the models to wander through a maze of trees. The collection was full of dreams, and it was clear as day that Abloh found his stride with establishing house codes as the Artistic Director. He was a master of using his imagination to reinvent moments that reflected Black culture – furry earmuffs were paired with a fashion forward tracksuit, and a rainbow mink coat turned everyone’s head.
There was also pristine tailoring and sharp silhouettes, but Abloh maintained a playful essence by using color and mixing in padded hulk-like vests and gloves. His clothes never felt too serious, which made his world more inviting. His universal voice brought many people from different walks of life together, and showed them where their lives intersect. Overall, the collection felt fresh, and one could describe it as timeless, but in this instance, only time will be able to tell because of how well Abloh captured the present moment and what’s relevant today – his finger lived on the pulse.
Like any other Abloh presentation, there were many elements outside of the clothes that captured our attention. The hot air balloon was definitely cool, but the larger than life statue of Abloh was even more captivating. I couldn’t help but wonder what was on the track list for the presentation, but knowing Abloh’s nature, most of the music was probably produced just for the occasion. And to have his original tribe there to witness made it twice as special – the presence of Luka Sabbat and other young fashion legends that Abloh ushered into the industry added significance to the moment.
The evening concluded with fireworks and a light show. Attendees watched in awe, while snapping videos and pictures to freeze the moment in time. The final moments were picture perfect. In the air, lights spelled out ‘Virgil was here’ accompanied with a dotted paper plane that aimed to the sky – ingraining his impact and reminding us to let our imaginations run wild.
See more looks from the collection ahead.