IN A MATTER of days, Pharrell Williams will officially debut his first collection as the new menswear creative director of Louis Vuitton. The show, which will take place on June 20 in Paris, is by far the most anticipated of the season — the creative polymath’s appointment back in February shocked some corners of the fashion universe and delighted others. It won’t be his first outing as a fashion designer — in 2019 he designed a collection for Chanel, and he co-founded the streetwear label Billionaire Boys Club with Japanese fashion savant Nigo. But the top job at Louis Vuitton is arguably the most high-profile position in fashion. What direction will Pharrell take it in?
Overnight, those of us thirsting for a sneak peak were satiated by way of the star’s first Louis Vuitton campaign. Unveiled on Pharrell’s personal Instagram, the campaign stars none other than an extremely pregnant, very glowing Rihanna.
Carrying a not insubstantial collection of the brand’s iconic leather monogrammed bags while balancing what looks like a Starbucks venti, RiRi is, for all intents and purposes, a (bad) girl on the move. The leather shirt she’s wearing, which features a pixelated version of the French Maison’s iconic Damier check, is styled unbuttoned to expose her growing belly, à la the star’s signature maternity look.
The billboard is situated at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, but it’s on Instagram that it’s creating the most buzz. Williams simply captioned the post: “LOUIS VUITTON MEN Spring-Summer 2024”. Cue the goosebumps.
Will this celebrity-driven vision will trickle into his collections for Louis Vuitton? Given the pop culture-obsessed state of luxury fashion — not to mention the late Virgil Abloh’s legacy, which Pharrell has vowed to uphold — it’s highly likely. Yet this celebrity co-sign is anything but tokenistic. Rihanna and Pharrell go way back, having first collaborated in 2017 for N.E.R.D’s comeback single ‘Lemon’ and then again in 2020, when Rihanna announced she was working on a new album with Williams. There were even rumours the duo dated back in 2009 (though those haven’t been substantiated by either party).
The pair also have a lot in common. They both started their careers as musicians, and soared to the top of the charts before expanding their empires to include skincare, beauty and fashion businesses. No biggie.
As for Williams and his love for Louis Vuitton, the ‘Happy’ singer memorably first worked with the Maison during a 2004 capsule collection with his BBC co-founder Nigo — he designed a line of sunglasses, known as ‘Millionaire’.
A lot has changed between 2004 and now, in particular the direction of the luxury fashion industry, and Louis Vuitton’s positioning within it. During the announcement of Pharrell’s appointment on February 15, the brand reiterated that Williams’ appointment aligns with its vision to establish itself as a “Cultural Maison,” while highlighting its “values of innovation, pioneer spirit, and entrepreneurship.”
While he’s no doubt got big shoes to fill, his first menswear show is expected to be the crème de la crème of Paris Fashion Week. Stay tuned.
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