"This whole thing is a shit show. My Uber driver is facetiming and driving. I spent $200 on dinner. Help me," read the string of texts I received from a London native visiting Miami from New York for his first Art Basel. As a former Miami resident, I assured him I was here for him, and passed along my Google spreadsheet of events for the week. This was only day one.
Originated in Basel, Switzerland, Art Basel is the international art fair that annually takes place there, in Hong Kong, and in Miami Beach. During the first week of December each year (conveniently right after you've eaten and drank yourself into a coma following Thanksgiving), art collectors, artists, gallerists, media and an increasing number of fashion brands looking for a marketing opportunity make their way to SoBe. After 15 years in Miami Beach, the week has become host to over 20 satellite fairs and seemingly countless receptions, launches, exhibitions, parties, and performances to the point where it's not uncommon for people to go to Art Basel and not actually attend (or know, for that matter) where or what it actually is.
Miami has never exactly been heralded as a fashion mecca, but as the amount of multi-hyphenate creatives grow, so does the presence of the industry during Art Basel Miami Beach. Music has always been a huge part of the champagne-fueled week, because what's a Miami party without DJs or a performance? Fashion has, too, but in recent years, Basel has become a time for brands to do more than simply premiere a new line or look.
Last Tuesday evening in Miami's Design District Loewe store, Creative Director Jonathan Anderson, hosted an event for "Chance Encounters II," an exhibition featuring work by William McKeown and John Ward, while Dior simultaneously celebrated the unveiling of "Dior Lady Art." The exhibition included seven American and British artists' interpretations of the Lady bag; they were exclusively on display in Dior's Design District location in Miami during Basel, but have since moved to the Dior pop-up in Los Angeles.
On Wednesday night things really picked up: David Casavant had his entire Raf Simons and Helmut Lang archive down in Miami for a special exhibition. Not only could attendees try on pieces from the archive, Casavant also had contributors — Ryan McNamara, Jacolby Satterwhite, Hanne Gaby Odiele, Stewart Uoo, Sophie Mörner and many more — create their own artistic interpretations utilizing the archive and offered a 'zine including their creations as well.
Gucci partnered with Artsy and Soundcloud hosting a party in easily the most impressive venue of the week, Faena's Art Dome. Awful Records' Abra and DJ Jubilee performed under Collective Reality's 360-degree projections in the "Time Capsule Dome," surrounded by plenty of Gucci-clad partygoers. Later in the evening, following a private dinner, Paper hosted a party in celebration of the H&M and Alex Katz collaboration; burgeoning designer Heron Preston deejayed, and Nelly Furtado performed in front of guests that included Daniel Arsham, Shaun Ross and a bevy of models.
Design Miami also opened on Wednesday: The design-centered fair brings galleries from around the world to present "museum-quality exhibitions of twentieth and twenty-first century furniture, lighting and objets d'art" according to its website. This year, Design featured a collection of furniture called The Objets Nomades by Louis Vuitton, and in addition to deejaying party after party (like he had over the last couple of years), Off-White's Virgil Abloh debuted his foray into furniture with an exhibit entitled Design Curio. It included an unconventional table and chairs made from steel, stone and wood, below a rotating sign wielding Off-White's signature stripes.
Public School (and former DKNY) designers Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow had a big week, too. Not only did the duo launch WNL radio and their residency at The Confidante in Miami Beach, they held a dinner and after-party on Thursday night — a gathering that surely boasted the biggest group of people ever in Miami wearing Vans simultaneously — followed by pool parties Friday and Saturday afternoons, where fashion-loving rapper Gucci Mane performed.
Despite a late drizzle, Jeremy Scott hosted a private dinner and his annual Moschino party at The Delano on Thursday night. There had to be nearly a million ping pong balls floating in the pool that served as a canvas for projections to be displayed; by about 1:00 a.m. there was a sizable group of people in the water as well. Jhene Aiko performed and Mia Moretti spun the party, and the guest list included the likes of A$AP Rocky, Ruby Aldrigde, Big Sean and Gucci Mane. Adidas made a big splash as well, hosting an event at the newly reopened Miami Marine Stadium for the debut of #TKLS, the brand's global creative discussion series. Moderated by Surface Editor in Chief Spencer Bailey, Pusha T and Ben Jones spoke about sneakers before making an exit and returning on a boat for an incredible performance.
There was a VLONE pop-up that kicked off Dec. 1, which can best be described as though the entire line outside of New York's Supreme store pre-drop relocated to Miami. Additionally, VLONE and AWGE hosted separate dinners, and the entire A$AP Mob hosted events all week at the W South Beach, where Kendall Jenner, Venus Williams, Lucien Smith and Aleali May all came to party with Rocky and his team.
On Friday evening, the private Parisian club Silencio screened Caelia Tripp's short film and hosted a pop-up party in the Design District. Tripp's film featured Michele Lamy — entrepreneur, creative director, producer and business partner to Rick Owens — as well as A$AP Rocky. Both Lamy and Rocky were in attendance, and together they put on a live visual performance for the cultural club's five year anniversary.
Hood By Air partnered with the MoMa for a pool party at the Delano Friday night, where Instagram-cast, predominantly local models wore clothing from the latest HBA collaboration with Pieter Hugo. Lena Dunham's younger sister, Grace Dunham, read spoken word poetry before Princess Nokia performed and ended her set in the pool along with designer Shayne Oliver.
But the nail in the coffin of a long, alcohol-fueled, exorbitantly good-looking week on Miami Beach was catching Lauryn Hill perform. No, this wasn't an event put on by one of your favorite brands, but Ms. Hill showed up on time for her performance swaggin' in an Off-White Letterman bomber. To be quite honest, this sight alone was worth the trip.