On Tuesday evening, guests gathered on a barge across from Miami's Marine Stadium for Louis Vuitton's latest "spin-off" show, a sort of re-viewing of an already-unveiled collection — in this case, Spring 2022 menswear — in a new city featuring new looks (plus, more private clients in the audience). However, this tragically was unlike past ones the brand has hosted: It turned out to be Virgil Abloh's last runway.
The designer passed away days before the event, following a private battle with cancer. But at his and his family's request, the show went on as scheduled, only with an increased focus on celebrating the creative director's legacy.
The event, titled "Virgil was here," drew out many of Abloh's friends, collaborators, colleagues and muses, including Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West (with their eldest child, North), Pharrell Williams, A$AP Rocky, Jerry Lorenzo, Michèle Lamy, 21 Savage and Edward Enninful, among many others; Kid Cudi, who walked the designer's first Louis Vuitton menswear show, also appeared on his final runway. At the Stadium, guests were greeted by a three-story statue of the late designer.
"While there were moments of somber emotion among the guests," Chantal Fernandez wrote in Business of Fashion, "the mood was far from funereal. There was laughter. There were long hugs. And there was no shortage of bold looks, with many in attendance paying tribute in their best Abloh-designed pieces."
Before the models stepped out onto the runway, Louis Vuitton CEO Michael Burke spoke to the audience about Abloh and their longstanding relationship, per Vogue: "He used the platform he had to break boundaries, to open doors, to shed light on his creative passions — art, design, music and of course, fashion — so that everybody could see inside," he said, "not only to dream of being part of that world but to also find ways to make that dream a reality."
Then, the Spring 2022 show officially began, with an audio message from the designer himself talking about the creative process and the idea of returning to this place of childlike wonder and curiosity that he'd been exploring through his work. Models made their way down the tree-lined runway, showcasing 10 never-before-seen looks that expand on the ideas Abloh first introduced back in June. The designer's team at Louis Vuitton came out for the final bow, before a red hot air balloon featuring the iconic monogram floated over the audience, followed by fireworks and drones arranged to read, "Virgil was here." You can watch the full runway — and listen to Abloh's recording — in the video below.
In one of his final interviews, Abloh told WWD of the Miami event: "More than a spin-off, this show is part of the collection arc that continues to shape and evolve the Louis Vuitton men's realm. The pandemic pushed us to adapt our storytelling through new formats, from films to destination shows. This collection is an ongoing tale originally told through film, on which we're now elaborating on a runway. We're not simply adding more looks, but creating a physical frame, which both reiterates and cultivates the overall context that began with collection one three years ago."
Louis Vuitton's Spring 2022 menswear line, he continued to WWD, "is founded in a desire to erase the unconscious biases connected with certain dress codes based on the way society programs us to think growing up. We're framing that premise in symbolism native to the idea of boyhood, an ideology that continues to be part of the Louis Vuitton men's practice." Abloh pointed to the paper planes and hot air balloon motifs that reappear throughout the collection as a way this manifests into the clothing: "It's a metaphor for possibility and open-mindedness, and our need to reconnect with those instincts on a big scale."
See the full Louis Vuitton Spring 2022 collection — Abloh's last — in the gallery, below.