Tribute to Virgil Abloh in Miami

A Louis Vuitton fashion show to celebrate the opening of a sparkling new menswear store in Miami’s Design District paid a soulful homage to Virgil Abloh as friends, collaborators and fans paid homage under fireworks and a drone light show.

On Tuesday, as the sun set over the port of Miami, nearly 1,500 guests boarded Louis Vuitton speedboats and ferries and headed for the Miami Marine Stadium, a former water sports arena. The gorge was screened to house the runway barge adorned with birch trees and black paper airplanes, a recurring theme in Mr. Abloh’s work.

Sitting next to Kim Kardashian and their daughter North in the front row was longtime supporter Kanye West. Also, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump made their first big appearances since the 2020 presidential election, wearing bright pink Louis Vuitton dresses.

Participants were instructed not to give interviews out of respect for Mr Virgil’s family.

Also in the front row were Rihanna and ASAP Rocky, Pharrell Williams, Joe Jonas, Ricky Martin, Venus Williams, Bella Hadid, 21 Savage and Joan Smalls. The Arnault clan, who had not originally intended to come, entered the show dressed in black around 6 pm.

Silence fell over the crowd as the brand’s CEO, Michael Burke, gave a short and emotional speech. “Like all of you, Virgil’s death is unimaginable to me,” he said. “He was born the same year as my eldest child, and I saw him as my son.”

He wasn’t the only one holding back tears. After the 18-minute show, which featured several new looks but mostly outfits from Vuitton’s spring 2022 menswear collection, Mr. Abloh’s voice filled the dark stadium: “Life is so short you don’t waste a day subscribing. Against what one thinks one can do, against knowing what one can do.”

The arena was illuminated in rainbow colors and huge fireworks sparkled in the sky. Most of the crowd embraced as tears streamed down their faces. “I feel like we’re at a beautiful funeral,” one participant was heard saying.

The guests left the barge and followed the red carpet to the after-party, stopping to pose in front of the three-story statue of Mr. Abloh wearing sunglasses and carrying a branded portfolio.

Just before 7pm, a drone light show filled the sky as the mood shifted from gloomy to party mode. It started out as a paper airplane before evolving into iterations of the Louis Vuitton monogram, a palm tree, and the initials “LV” that evolved into “VA.” within minutes, photos of the screen could be seen on social media.

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