Louis Vuitton fashion show pays tribute to designer Virgil Abloh

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MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) – Louis Vuitton’s first-ever American fashion show has turned into a dark but whimsical tribute to groundbreaking designer Virgil Abloh days after his death.

The Miami menswear event, the unofficial kickoff of the prestigious Art Basel fair, had been in the works for months. The guests were transported by yachts to the star-studded affair held on an island. Celebrities including Kim Kardashian West and daughter North, Ye, rapper formerly known as Kanye West, model Bella Hadid, Joe Jonas, Maluma and Pharrell have arrived in elegant silver LV monogrammed stars.

Kid Cudi and Erykah Badu performed at an after party. “Hey Virgil,” she shouted at the start of her set, later saying “we want to see you fly”.


Abloh, who died Sunday after a long battle with cancer, was known to push the boundaries as the head of the legendary French fashion house, thanks to his childish curiosity and eagerness to instill a sense of playfulness. His revolutionary fusions of streetwear and high fashion have made him one of the most famous trendsetters.

A focal point of the show was a giant red LV monogrammed hot air balloon that blew out flames as Abloh’s voice was heard in the background.

Brand CEO Michael Burke said Abloh’s wife and family wanted the show to continue. He had just spoken to the young designer on Saturday night, describing the inspiration for the show as sort of adulthood because “inspiring and empowering younger generations defined who he was.”

“We had it all imagined and he was upset not to be here in person,” said Burke.

The models walked the curvy runway, showcasing the collection that included everything from neon-colored amphibian looks, aqua-gear with colorful fish backpacks to letterman-style school sweaters and snow bunny looks with fur boots.

There was a sleek matte black ensemble that looked like SWAT gear, military-style suits in olive with belted coats, and even brightly colored Southern-belle-style hoop skirts. The prints included tie-dye hues and the iconic plaid logo remade in new color patterns.

While the clothes were like Abloh – playful, colorful and vibrant – the vibe was dark. During and after the show, many spectators wiped away their tears, standing up to kiss each other or offer a little comforting pat.

The sparse applause at the end was awkward. Unlike most shows, no one got up to mingle or speak, but instead sat in heavy silence.

The designer’s traditional final arc wasn’t coming and never would and as the fireworks lit up the Miami skyline, audiences seemed painfully aware of his absence.

Instead, the show reverted to the daring hot air balloon as the designer’s voice said “life is short,” warning, “you can’t waste even a day subscribing to what someone thinks you are. can do rather than know what you can do “- a sort of anthem that rallied a generation of young fans.

Lamont Spears traveled from Atlanta just for the show, wearing a fuzzy LV monogrammed hoodie and a sweatshirt with Abloh’s picture on it.

“It’s a very sad moment, but we have to celebrate his life, we have to keep pushing because he has allowed us to continue, to remain confident,” said the 35-year-old. “He showed me that I could.

In 2018, Abloh became the first black man to serve as Louis Vuitton’s director of men’s clothing in the French design house’s rich history. He grew up outside of Chicago, his first generation as a Ghanaian-American seamstress mother teaching him to sew.

New York stylist Memsor Kamarake, who saw Abloh’s first show in Paris, came specially for the final tribute, saying through tears after the fireworks display: “I felt like now I can finally cry for him. “

“So often black people are represented by pain, by struggle, which is why it was so important for him to tap into that childish joy,” Kamarake said.

Above a red carpet leading to an outdoor after-party, the sky lit up with red dots dancing in various configurations before they gathered to say “Virgil was there”.

Abloh, who founded his own brand Off-White in 2013, had a vast creative presence outside of clothing. His sculpture “Dollar a Gallon”, unveiled this week during Art Basel, is a commentary on the effect of advertising on the impressionable.

He also designed furniture for IKEA, refillable bottles for Evian and Big Mac boxes for McDonald’s. His work has been exhibited at the Louvre, the Gagosian and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.

Abloh has been a major influence in streetwear. He interned with Ye at LVMH Fendi, was the rapper’s creative director, and landed a Grammy nomination as artistic director for the 2011 Ye-Jay-Z album “Watch the Throne”.

“I think this will be the most important moment in LV history,” said David Filipucci, a 21-year-old from the Netherlands to watch the show.

“LV, for the moment, it’s Virgil. He made it more special.


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