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How Pharrell influenced fashion and why he will do it again at Vuitton

Louis Vuitton ushers in its new era of menswear with Pharrell Williams

LVMH-owned Louis Vuitton just announced their new men’s creative director – American artist Pharrell Williams. After Virgil Abloh’s untimely passing, there were a lot of speculations in the fashion world about the new Louis Vuitton successor, and rumours mentioned Grace Wales Bonner, Martine Rose, Samuel Ross, Colm Dillane and Telfar Clemens. Having one of these talents, especially a woman of colour, as creative director of the men’s division of one of French luxury fashion’s biggest houses would have been a revolutionary step. Still, Williams is a perfect fit for succeeding Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton, and there are too many reasons for that.

The American musician and fashion entrepreneur Pharrell Williams has been named the creative director of Louis Vuitton menswear

The American musician and fashion entrepreneur Pharrell Williams has been named the creative director of Louis Vuitton menswear

Announcing Pharrell Williams’ appointment, Louis Vuitton described him as a “visionary whose creative universes expand from music to art, and to fashion – establishing himself as a cultural, global icon over the past 20 years.” That is a good reason why, but it does not end there. While the LVMH share price climbed 2.6% to a high of EUR 830 during Wednesday’s trading, as Vogue business reported, Williams was hailed as the industry star he actually is. Where do his tremendous global media and cultural impact come from? Let’s delve into the archives to learn more about the relationship between the artist and fashion.

 

Not just an ordinary musician: from BBC to LV, here is a journey through the fashion milestones of a hugely successful producer, singer and creative soul

Since the beginning of his career, Pharrell Williams was more than just an ordinary musician – he dabbled into producing, singing and songwriting.

Music producer and streetwear entrepreneur Pharrell Williams

Music producer and streetwear entrepreneur Pharrell Williams 

With his partner in the Neptunes production duo, Chad Hugo, he created the decade’s biggest hits. In 2003 he was responsible for producing 43% of the songs on the radio – this is when his relationship with fashion started to grow. Williams quickly became hip-hop’s fashion icon and biggest trendsetter by mixing the coolest streetwear brands, like Bape, with high-end fashion pieces and unique jewellery.

Pharrell Williams and Nigo

Pharrell Williams and Nigo

In 2003 Pharrell Williams connected with Nigo, a Japanese streetwear icon and Bape founder who is currently the creative director of Kenzo. They started a two-decade-long friendship and collaborations run. It was in 2003 that Pharrell Williams and Nigo founded Billionaire Boys Club – an extremely successful streetwear brand that has been selling worldwide until this day. BBC debuted in Williams’ 2003 “Frontin” music video – named the most iconic music video in menswear history and his first solo hit debut that became the blueprint for many years. Virgil Abloh happened to reference the music video in his “Figures of Speech” exhibition, making it a full-circle moment.

 

Pharrell Williams’ relationship with Louis Vuitton began long before a few days ago

Pharrell Williams’ first business ventures in fashion were highly successful and grew into many collaborations and relationships in streetwear and the luxury scene.

Hitmakers Williams shrouded in an LV-branded scarf

Hitmakers Williams shrouded in an LV-branded scarf

This is how Pharrell landed his first collaboration with Louis Vuitton – his Millionaire sunglasses were designed together with Nigo and lately reworked by Virgil Abloh.

Pharrell and Nigo designed the Millionaire sunglasses for Marc Jacobs' Louis Vuitton spring-summer 2005 collection. The red, black and white frames were released in 2005. The purple and turquoise were reissued in 2007

Pharrell and Nigo designed the Millionaire sunglasses for Marc Jacobs' Louis Vuitton spring-summer 2005 collection. The red, black and white frames were released in 2005. The purple and turquoise were reissued in 2007

Williams collaborated with the fashion house more than once – he created custom outerwear and the “Blason” jewellery collection. He modelled for their campaigns, not to mention his friendship with ex-creative director Marc Jacobs and regularly attending Louis Vuitton fashion shows. And while looking at what he created for Louis Vuitton in the 2000s, we will not forget what he did with his historic Chanel collaboration in 2019.

 

Pharrell Williams is taking over the late Virgil Abloh’s role as Louis Vuitton’s menswear creative director: the two were colleagues and good friends 

The appointment of Pharrell Williams as a Louis Vuitton men’s creative director makes way more sense than it might seem from an unfamiliar perspective. The course the brand took with Virgil Abloh showed excellent results and a cult following. Williams was in the scene and opened the doors for many young talents, including Virgil Abloh, with his unique taste and influence.

Virgil Abloh and Pharrell Williams

Virgil Abloh and Pharrell Williams

The late Virgil Abloh openly stated that Pharrell William was one of his greatest cultural influences and a perfect connection to someone with a previous relationship with the brand and cultural relevance in the industry.

 

Why Pharrell Williams will do wonders for Louis Vuitton’s business

Pharrell Williams’ style is another reason for his worldwide influence – he has been named the most stylish man for years, and the industry totally loves him. Williams had good relationships with many prominent figures like Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld, which birthed their years-long creative collaborations with Chanel.

Pharrell Williams and Karl Lagerfeld

Karl Lagerfeld and Pharrell Williams 

He appeared in many fashion editorials, including Vogue, alongside models like Natasha Poly and his then-girlfriend Karolína Kurková. With this long experience and the iconic status for decades, Pharrell Williams can only succeed in Louis Vuitton. The first collection will premiere during the next men’s fashion week, and the world will see his work coming to fruition.

 

 

Elizaveta Ostanina
Editorial team, Paris
School
PARIS
Course
Programme
postgraduate-Master's Degrees • Master's Courses