Virgil Abloh’s Final Louis Vuitton Show Was a Heartfelt Homage

A man standing and looking at a big red Louis Vuitton air balloon in air
Courtesy Louis Vuitton

Tributes to Virgil Abloh, the hugely influential fashion disrupter and prolific multihyphenate, flooded social media immediately after news broke of his untimely death on Sunday at age 41. Just days later, on Tuesday, many of his notable admirers got to pay their respects in person, all while taking in Abloh’s final menswear collection for Louis Vuitton. “Per his wishes,” CEO and chairman Michael Burke said in a statement, the house went ahead with its months-long plans to present Abloh’s spring 2022 collection at Art Basel Miami Beach. (Abloh, who had been privately battling a rare cancer since 2019, was a mainstay of the art-world extravaganza, both exhibiting his work and DJing more parties than he could count.)

Naturally, it was all a tribute to Abloh, starting with the title that at one point illuminated the sky over Miami: “Virgil Was Here.” And he was indeed, from a three-story illuminated effigy to the voiceover that kicked things off. “I’ve been on this focus, in terms of my art and creativity, of getting adults to behave like children again,” Abloh’s voice rang out as the first model hit the runway in head-to-toe black. “They go back, into this sense of wonderment. They start to stop using their mind and they start using their imagination.” Here, everything you need to know about the homage.

The collection totaled more than 80 looks.

Many were recognizable, having first popped up in the house’s video presentation this past June. Standouts included sports jerseys paired with hoop skirts, neon green monochrome, massive gloves resembling Hulk Hands, and the multicolored fur that Rihanna snapped up straight from the runway this summer.

Photos by Isidore Montag
Photos by Isidore Montag

Kid Cudi hit the runway.

Abloh was known for his all-star casts, frequently enlisting the likes of Naomi Campbell, Kendall Jenner, Karlie Kloss, and Gigi and Bella Hadid. This time, the house eschewed traditional supers in favor of Kid Cudi, who later joined Erykah Badu in performing at the show’s after-party. Otherwise, the runway played host to less recognizable faces; among the familiar ones was Kai-Isaiah Jamal, who became the first Black transgender model to walk for Vuitton earlier this year.

Celebrities came out in droves.

LV-monogrammed yachts escorted boatloads of musicians like Pharrell, Quavo, 21 Savage, Joe Jonas, and DJ Khaled, plus models like Luka Sabbat and Bella Hadid. Many eagerly shared snapshots of the evening on Instagram, including the giant hot air balloon that figured prominently in the show’s accompanying preview video and lights spelling out Abloh’s initials.

It was a Kardashian-West family reunion.

Much has changed for Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West since they joined the emotional crowd at Abloh’s Vuitton debut in 2019. But divorce didn’t stop them from coming together to admire the handiwork of Ye’s longtime collaborator, this time in the company of their eight-year-old daughter North. All three wore matching nighttime sunglasses and, naturally, plenty of Abloh-designed Vuitton.

Courtesy of @richieakiva Instagram stories.

The finale had everyone in tears.

Heads up for the 20:00 mark in the video below: You’re about to get teary, too. “There’s no limit,” a recording of Abloh’s voice rang out as the lights dimmed for a spectacular fireworks display. “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.”