On Tuesday, the fashion world gathered to pay tribute to the life and legacy of Virgil Abloh. To honour his work for Louis Vuitton - the luxury brand where he served as artistic director of menswear for four years - the maison showed his last collection, SS22, at a special event in Miami.
Kanye West, Abloh's longtime friend and collaborator, attended, along with Kim Kardashian West, whose tribute to the visionary designer after the news broke of his passing included the line: 'Virgil - you were always so gentle, kind and calm. You somehow made time for everyone. We also talked about your superpower of calmness often. You always gave so much of yourself to the world because you wanted it to be doper.'
The show was titled 'Virgil was here', and it was these words that illuminated the night sky over the heads of the guests (as well as a logoed hot air balloon), who gathered to celebrate one of the most industrious and inclusive voices in fashion (at Monday's Fashion Awards, Abloh was named a Leader for Change, one of 15 trailblazers who had generated positive change in the industry over the past year).
To emulate his stature in the industry - as well as his role at Louis Vuitton, Abloh was founder of Off-White - a towering statue overlooked the set: Abloh himself, wearing sunglasses and staring up at the sky.
The majority of the collection was shown earlier this year in June, via a short film called Amen Break. For this reshowing, Abloh added seven looks as he always did for spin-off shows, dedicating the additions to whichever city it was that was hosting the show (yet another testament to his tireless work ethic).
In preparation for SS22, the designer penned, 'A manifesto according to Virgil Abloh,' the words of which take on fresh poignance after the events of this week. He discussed how each season, his team would update what he called, 'The vocabulary according to Virgil Abloh': 'Under ‘I’ for ‘Irony’: “The presence of Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton.” For all intents and nuances, I have often spelled out the interceptive reality of myself as a black man in a French luxury house. I am well aware of my responsibilities. Rather than preaching about it, I hope to lead by example and unlock the door for future generations.' From this week's outpouring of love, Abloh did just that.
His imaginative gait was famously wide - and for this collection, his focus, according to the voiceover which played at the beginning of the show, was, 'getting adults to behave like children again...they go back, into this sense of wonderment. They stop using their mind and they start using their imagination.'
Everyone present documented the final flourish - a light show created with a fleet of drones, who wrote those three words, 'Virgil was here', and created a floating VA, with a paper airplane that looped underneath. As his final voiceover said: 'There's no limit. 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.'
SEE: Virgil Abloh's Most Memorable Fashion Moments
Hailey Bieber's wedding dress was a masterpiece in marrying the old and new from Abloh. The veil - embroidered with the words 'Till Death Do Us Part' - had his handwriting all over it. Posting yesterday on Instagram, Bieber made the following tribute: 'Virgil completely changed the way I looked at street style and fashion, the way he looked at things inspired me deeply. I will never be able to fully express how grateful I am to have known him and worked with him, from walking on his runways to having him design my wedding dress and all the other amazing moments in between, I felt he was always rooting for me.'
Off-White's accessories quickly achieved cult status on the street style circuit, especially the brand's wraparound seatbelt belt.
Abloh's pool of inspiration was famously prolific. At Louis Vuitton, he drew from his own Ghanian heritage, telling his family history through the clothes. Speaking to Vogue, Abloh said: 'When I grew up, my father wore Kente cloth, with nothing beneath it, to family weddings, funerals, graduations. When he went to an American wedding, he wore a suit. I merged those two together, celebrating my Ghanaian culture.' For Off-White SS18, Abloh was inspired by Princess Diana, sending cycling shorts, white shirts and polka dots down the catwalk.
Abloh was a streetwear genius, but proved how the genre could blend with its polar opposite - eveningwear - time and time again at Off-White. This shirt dress, complete with a boned hoop skirt, was a case in point on Alek Wek.
Almost every tastemaker has a pair of Off-White x Nike Air Jordans (Roger Federer's a fan).
Men often get the thin end of the wedge on the red carpet. Thanks to Abloh's Louis Vuitton, however, they can now claim equal peacock rights to women. Jeremy Pope's hot pink suit at this year's Tony Awards - finished with a power polo neck - was the best look of the evening. Also see: Timothee Chalamet's harness (major), and John Boyega at the Critics' Choice Awards.
Abloh had an energy for collaborating with fellow creatives, and elevating their work, like no other. For Louis Vuitton AW21, he worked with spoken word artist Kai Isaiah Jamal, who posted a tribute to the designer on their Instagram, which included the phrase: 'He was an ocean of the most beautiful things.'
Serena Williams, the ultimate tennis titan, wore several custom on-court outfits by Abloh.