This is news that surprised more than one: the jack-of-all-trades singer-producer Pharrell Williams was appointed artistic director of the men’s collections of the Louis Vuitton house on Tuesday evening February 14. A position left vacant for more than a year, following the unexpected death, in November 2021, of Virgil Abloh, then in charge of collections.
The French trunk maker has left time for reflection: since the end of 2021, the collections have been orchestrated internally by the design studio chosen and trained by Abloh, sometimes with guest designers. The fall-winter 2023-2024 fashion show, presented in January in the Cour Carrée du Louvre, was in fact partly imagined by Colm Dillane, a young New York designer who works under the name KidSuper.
A change of president at Louis Vuitton – Pietro Beccari, from the house of Dior, was appointed to this position in January – will undoubtedly have accelerated this appointment that many were waiting for. For several months, rumors had been swirling in the fashion and luxury harem, assuming instead that Vuitton would seek out a young designer at the start of their career, such as Martine Rose, Telfar Clemens or Grace Wales Bonner.
“A very exciting new chapter”
“I am happy to see Pharrell returning to the house, after our collaborations in 2004 and 2008 for Louis Vuitton, as the new creative director (collections) male. His creative vision beyond fashion will undoubtedly lead Louis Vuitton to a very exciting new chapter.”said Pietro Beccari in an official statement.
Pharrell Williams first became known to the general public for his talents as a music producer, under the name of The Neptunes, then NERD
A surprising appointment, but not totally out of step with the house’s approach adopted since the arrival of Abloh in 2018: with his universe at the crossroads of music, fashion and art, the native from Chicago had won the bet of placing Louis Vuitton in the sights of young people, by skilfully mixing the codes of luxury and streetwear.
With Pharrell Williams, these same codes should be respected. The American, born in Virginia Beach (Virginia), in 1973, first became known to the general public for his talents as a music producer, under the name of The Neptunes, then of NERD, a duo he formed. with Chad Hugo. We owe them many hits of the 2000s and 2010s, from Britney Spears to Justin Timberlake, via Jay-Z. We also remember the success of his association with the French group Daft Punk, on the title Get Luckyin 2013. Recognized by his peers for his musical talents and his contribution to the history of music, Pharrell Williams is the holder of thirteen Grammy Awards.
Series of twists in the fashion world
Accustomed to the front rows of fashion shows, Williams is also familiar with the world of art and design. In particular, he edited a chair in collaboration with the French designers Domeau & Pérès, in 2008, and was the curator of an exhibition devoted to women in the Parisian gallery of Emmanuel Perrotin, in 2014.
Fashion is no stranger to him either. In 2005, he launched Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream, two streetwear lines in collaboration with Japanese designer Nigo (now artistic director of Kenzo). Williams is also a regular in the luxury world. He has indeed collaborated with many brands: Louis Vuitton, already in 2004 for a series of glasses, and in 2008 for a line of jewelry, but also Moncler, Uniqlo, Adidas and the house of Chanel, with whom he imagined a line of sweatshirts and bags, in 2015.
The announcement of this appointment adds to a series of twists and turns in the world of fashion: designer Phoebe Philo announced on February 9 the launch of her highly anticipated brand for September, while Gucci named Sabato de Sarno to its artistic direction, at the end of January. The first collection signed Pharrell Williams for Louis Vuitton will be unveiled in Paris in June, during the spring-summer 2024 collections.