It's official: Pharrell Williams is the new creative director of Louis Vuitton's menswear line. The luxury menswear landscape is about to be revolutionized by a move that opens a new era of celebrity fashion designers. Pharrell, an international star and fashion aficionado, has indeed been chosen by LVMH, the parent company of Louis Vuitton, to fill the position that was Virgil Abloh's until his death at the end of 2021. Pharrell's debut collection will be presented in Paris in June.
Pietro Beccari, CEO and President of Louis Vuitton, called Pharrell's choice a homecoming in a statement,
"I am delighted to welcome Pharrell's return home as the new artistic director of the men's line, following our collaboration in 2004 and 2008 for Louis Vuitton. His creative vision, which goes beyond fashion, will undoubtedly lead Louis Vuitton into an exciting new chapter."
Pharrell has a long history of collaborations with luxury brands, including Louis Vuitton. In 2018, he had designed a line of sunglasses with Marc Jacobs, then Vuitton's creative director, which was then relaunched in 2018 by Abloh – Pharrell's friend and collaborator. Pharrell has also curated eye-catching creations for Chanel and for Moncler, which will unveil a new Pharell-designed collection later this week in London. He also has a longstanding partnership with Adidas Originals and recently launched a skincare line, Humanrace.
Pharrell has long articulated a hyper-modern sense of style that resonates deeply with the new generation of fashion fans. "When you listen to yourself and you're comfortable with who you are, you wear what feels right for you. That's what it's all about," Pharrell had told GQ in 2019, when he wore a puffer cut from an evening gown for the cover of the New Masculinity Issue.
Twenty years ago, as the frontman of N.E.R.D., he had modernized hip-hop style by incorporating skateboarder-wear elements. With his evolved sensibility he had somewhat anticipated the rise of gender-neutral clothing, wearing garments from the womenswear collection of Phoebe Philo, then creative director of Céline, and becoming the first man to appear in a Chanel ad in 2017.
The bond between Pharrell and LVMH has strengthened in recent years. In 2021 LVMH put Japanese producer and designer Nigo, Pharrell's creative adviser, in charge of Kenzo. Pharrell and Nigo's careers have been interconnected since the early 2000s, when the duo founded the seminal streetwear brand Billionaire Boys Club. Pharrell is now a regular presence at Kenzo fashion shows. Most recently, he wore custom diamond sunglasses he designed with Tiffany & Co., the latest luxury brand acquired by LVMH.
Pharrell's choice for Louis Vuitton Men's represents the evolution of LVMH's strategy to transform its luxury brands into global pop movements. Louis Vuitton's collaboration with Yayoi Kusama has seen a number of cities around the world covered in the designer's polka dots, and the brand's latest runway show included a performance by Rosalìa, which had little to do with the clothes but created a social moment of massive resonance. The collection included garments designed by Colm Dillane of KidSuper, and had put Dillane in pole position for the role of creative director. But LVMH may be thinking bigger, adopting a turnaround strategy similar to that used for Tiffany. LVMH's relaunch of Tiffany began with an advertising campaign headed by Beyoncé and Jay-Z, and later including Pharrell himself. Asked by WWD about the custom diamond sunglasses, Pharrell hinted that it was only the first element of a long-term partnership. "Tiffany and I are engaged," he told WWD, adding that he had "a lot of things" in the works with the New York-based jeweler.
Now Pharrell has been promoted to one of the most high-profile roles in men's fashion, and will be responsible for producing two collections a year that include handbags, accessories, and ready-to-wear. Pharrell has yet to make a statement, but an ecstatic Instagram Story from his friend Pusha-T said it all: it's really happening, and it's something big.