IT’S BIG WAVE SEASON in Hawaii. I know this because my algorithm is currently full of the world’s bravest people soaring down the faces of oceanic mountains, like fear isn’t real and death is but a mere concept. Right now, the surfing world’s eyes are trained on Peah’i, a surf break on the northern hem of Maui, where the ‘Jaws’ Big Wave Challenge is happening. But last night, a group of people from Hawaii’s surf community traded those walls of water for the glittering lights of Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong’s panoramic waterfront. They weren’t there to surf, but to walk in Pharrell Williams’ second-ever runway for Louis Vuitton Men’s.
It was the gravitational force of the moon that guided Pharrell from the shores of Hawaii to the port of Hong Kong. “The nocturnal counterpart to the sun, the moon is the Earth’s wave-maker and a source of light and guidance across the globe,” explain the show notes. “Pharrell Williams surfs the slipstream of the seafarers who let the moon and the stars guide them to new horizons.”
Of course he does—he’s Pharrell. But the seafaring metaphor gave the collection its backbone; a universally recognisable theme for the multi-hyphenate and his team of designers to riff off. And riff off it they did.
But before the surfers came a cast of sailor types. Dressed in wearable pieces that contained nods towards a traditional sailor’s uniform, they were this season’s iteration of Pharrell’s ‘dandies’, But they were also in dialogue with Hong Kong’s history as a deepwater seaport—one that large shipping vessels still frequent today.
These men were turned out in mariner’s hats embroidered with ‘Louis Vuitton’ in cursive font; there were double-breasted naval coats adorned with pearl buttons and a shell-embroidered varsity jacket with a sailor’s collar that zips into a hoodie (very cool). There was even an all-white safari-style sailor suit—a Google search confirmed the white of a seafarer’s uniform is to represent peace. This very much chimes with the philosophy at the heart of Pharrell’s practice, which is one of universal peace and love. It was also the suit the creative director took his final bow in, which, similar to his first collection for the house in Paris, was a celebratory lap, not an in-and-out affair.
After 20 or so looks—there were a whopping 64 in total—the sailors loosened up a little, making way for the surfing crowd. These guys walked down the sand-covered runway in Hawaiian shirts and brightly printed board shorts. Ten patterns that paid homage to the Hawaiian shirt were developed in the Louis Vuitton studio for this collection; many of them feature illustrations of big, rolling waves, not unlike those currently swallowing surfers in Peah’i.
For the second time running, the accessories were a standout. It seems like this is where Pharrell’s design vocabulary is flourishing, which is fortuitous not only because Louis Vuitton is a leather goods brands, but because in this economy, accessories are what’s selling. The Speedy bag, which earned the ‘It’ prefix as soon as it was released, was shown in a Damier denim print, while a new monogram—inspired by Hawaiian scenery—appeared across bags in four different colours.
On the jewellery front, braided cotton bracelets and jewellery crafted from wooden beads, enamel flowers and pearls made for a nostalgic touch.
The collection’s overarching mood was one of fun. Those in attendance were excited to be there, and the models on the runway—whether real life surfers or Hong Kong locals—clearly enjoyed wearing the clothes. At risk of dropping the most obvious pun in the books, this collection was Happy. Who can’t get behind that?
See more of Esquire Australia’s style coverage here.