At Louis Vuitton’s Miami Show, a Tearful Farewell to Virgil Abloh

The French maison staged a touching tribute to Abloh, the cultural powerhouse and former artistic director of menswear, who passed away earlier this week.

Image courtesy of DRIFT

The show must go on, and indeed the late Virgil Abloh’s—who died on Sunday after a long, private battle with cancer at age 41—choreographed, multifaceted, beautiful, and highly attended final Louis Vuitton show proceeded exactly as the multihyphenate intended. Although the actual looks showcased were largely a rehash of his Spring/Summer 2022 menswear collection, which was shown in Paris in June, each element of the Miami show stood out as both fresh and laden with celebration and grief. 

Abloh’s final show included more than 1,500 names on the guest list, a monumental statue of the sunglasses-clad designer gazing skyward, a red hot air balloon emblazoned with Louis Vuitton’s logo, a paper airplane statue, a drone-assisted light show by DRIFT that spelled out “Virgil Was Here” in the sky, and an after-show concert featuring Kid Cudi and Erykah Badu. For the actual runway portion, guests were whisked on to a barge stationed in Biscayne Bay, where models walked down a catwalk flanked by birch trees. The overall focus was “Coming of Age,” a poetic theme for a designer who channeled the vibrancy and imagination of youth into everything he produced, as well as inspiring countless young designers the world over.

“The last time that I spoke with Virgil was on Saturday evening,” said a teary Michael Burke, CEO of Louis Vuitton. “He talked with passion about the finer details of the show: the symbolism of the paper plane, and the balloons, the sequencing of the collection looks, the concert we’re about to experience. He had imagined it all, and he was distraught not to be here to share it with us in person.” In true Abloh fashion, he continued to awe even after the show wrapped up. Posthumously revealed, Abloh and Mercedes-Benz’s Project MAYBACH, an all-electric show car, which displayed at the Rubell Museum this week.

Image courtesy of Louis Vuitton

Abloh, in a prerecorded voiceover, imparted some advice at the closing of his final show: “There’s no limit. Life is so short that you can’t waste even a day subscribing to what someone thinks you can do, versus knowing what you can do.”

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