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Louis Vuitton pays moving tribute to Virgil Abloh at Miami show

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The house’s SS22 presentation, dubbed ‘Virgil Was Here’, went ahead ‘per his wishes’

Just days after Virgil Abloh passed away, Louis Vuitton has showcased his final collection in Miami, in accordance with his wishes. Subtitled “Virgil Was Here”, the SS22 presentation acted as a send-off for the boundary-breaking designer, but also a testament to his outlook on work and creativity – amid a private battle with cancer, he’s said to have worked on the collection up until the very end, teasing it on Instagram only four days before the news of his passing. Here’s everything you need to know about the show.

IT OPENED WITH ABLOH’S OWN WORDS

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Across the course of his career, Abloh’s outlook had almost as much influence as his designs themselves. In the wake of his death, his most memorable quotes – incisive statements on the fashion industry, life lessons, the assertion that “you can do it too” – were shared by friends and fans alike, and so it was only fitting that Louis Vuitton tapped into that voice to open the show.

“I’ve been on this focus, in terms of my art and creativity, of getting adults to behave like children again,” he declared in the posthumous voiceover. “They go back, into this sense of wonderment. They start to stop using their mind, and they start using their imagination.”

Abloh’s massive presence in the fashion industry was also literally rendered in a three-storey statue, which loomed – alongside the red hot air balloon that lifts a child into the sky in the introductory short film – over the crowd that had gathered at the show-slash-tribute to the late designer.

FAMOUS FRIENDS AND FORMER COLLABORATORS PAID THEIR RESPECTS

Given that Kanye West has been by Abloh’s side since the latter was just a young graduate, it was no surprise to see him looking on as models strutted down the tree-lined catwalk. The rapper was accompanied by recent Louis Vuitton model 21 Savage, Metro Boomin, Kim Kardashian, and North West. Rihanna and A$AP Rocky, and Pharrell were also among the high-profile guests. 

Kid Cudi, meanwhile, joined a characteristically-diverse array of models alongside Offset and Quavo. Cudi previously walked the runway in Abloh’s groundbreaking debut show for Louis Vuitton back in 2018 and, vice-versa, the Off-White founder has played a key role in developing the musician’s style, making his appearance a fitting tribute.

THE COLLECTION WAS CLASSIC VIRGIL ABLOH

It would be a mistake to think of Abloh’s SS22 Louis Vuitton offering as a summary of his career, and not just one point in an astronomical trajectory that was tragically cut short. As a catalogue of the codes he established at the luxury house, though, the collection does do a pretty good job.

With the collection first dropping in June this year via a short film, belted tailoring was paired with sky-high iterations of the stetson-style hats from the label’s AW21 collection, and in the next breath a tracksuit top was layered with an oversized suit jacket (because streetwear isn’t quite dead – note the skateboard one model carried down the runway). Elsewhere, we got skin-tight balaclavas and LV varsity jackets plastered with graffiti, with irreverent oversized earmuffs and fluffy pink deerstalkers for those feeling the chill off the water.

THE SHOW ENDED WITH AN EMOTIONAL SEND-OFF

“It is with profound sorrow that I learned of the passing of Virgil Abloh,” wrote Louis Vuitton CEO and chairman Michael Burke in a statement posted to Instagram November 29. “Virgil was not only a friend, great collaborator, creative genius, visionary and disruptor, but also one of the best cultural communicators of our times. He paved the way for future generations. As a devoted supporter of his community through his charities and passions, he was an eternal optimist who believed anything was possible.”

However, the label chose to round out his last show with another snippet of his voice, as members of his design team gathered to mourn the loss.

Abloh’s quote reverberated through the darkness by the port of Miami, before the sky was lit up by fireworks: “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.”

Watch the show below.