Louis Vuitton Names Pharrell Williams Men’s Creative Director
PARIS, FRANCE — After over a year of rumors and speculations, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton owed brand Louis Vuitton has named music artist and designer turned entrepreneur Pharrell Williams as creative director of its menswear division, the company said Tuesday.
The announcement marks the first major decision by Pietro Beccari since he took over as chairman and chief executive officer of Louis Vuitton on Feb. 1, and confirms reports in The Wall Street Journal, who first broke the story.
The 49-year-old streetwear entrepreneur assumes the role previously held by Virgil Abloh, who died in November 2021 at 41, from cancer. Abloh had been privately battling the disease for several years (see it here).
Abloh was the first Black American to be appointed as the head designer at a European luxury house.
Williams and Abloh had a longstanding relationship and shared admiration for each other. In a 2017 interview with the Journal, Abloh said Williams was one of his five ideal dinner companions. When Abloh died, Williams tweeted that his heart was broken, calling his friend “a kind, generous, thoughtful creative genius.”
Williams, a native of Virginia Beach, Va., who rose to prominence in the late 1990s as a part of Hip-Hop production duo the Neptunes, is now the second.
Williams will show his first collection for the house during Paris Men’s Fashion Week in June.
“I am glad to welcome Pharrell back home,” said Beccari, Louis Vuitton’s chairman and CEO, of Williams’s early-aughts collaborations with the company. “His creative vision beyond fashion will undoubtedly lead Louis Vuitton towards a new and very exciting chapter.”
The position had been left unfilled since the untimely death of his predecessor, Virgil Abloh. Last summer, D.M. Fashion Book reported that sources within the industry have placed Telfar Clemens, a Liberian–American fashion designer and the founder of the label TELFAR, London-based designer Martine Rose, whose self-titled label has become a cult favorite in menswear design since 2007 and British fashion designer Grace Wales Bonner, the founder of London-based label Wales Bonner, originally specializing in menswear at the top of the list to succeed Abloh (see it here).
With his multihyphenate résumé, Williams has a similar profile to Abloh, who juggled his duties at Vuitton with his own label, Off-White, as well as side gigs that include DJing as well as art, furniture, jewelry and industrial design. Williams‘s résumé includes music, clothings, sneaker designs, a hotel, film and television.
Williams is a force to be reckoned with. He founded several clothing brands including Billionaire Boys Club and Icecream, the streetwear labels he launched with Japanese designer Nigo, who is now the creative director at Kenzo, which like Vuitton is owned by luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
In 2004, the Grammy Award winning artist codesigned a line of eyewear for Louis Vuitton that was followed by a jewelry collection for the house in 2008, when Beccari was a senior executive at the brand. The two are said to have started discussing the prospect of Williams taking on the menswear role in late November, managing to keep the talks under wraps until almost the last moment.
In another high-profile luxury tie-up, Williams dropped a sneaker collaboration with Chanel in 2017 that generated a waiting list of 120,000 people for 500 pairs. That was followed by a unisex clothing collection in 2019, designed with the brand’s late creative director Karl Lagerfeld.
He has also launched a series of hit sneakers, starting with a collaboration with Nike in 2004, which was followed by shoe designs for brands including Reebok and Timberland. In 2014, he entered a long-term partnership with Adidas, helping to fuel its NMD range with a series of highly coveted NMD Human Race (Hu) styles.
His contract as brand ambassador for Chanel has ended, while the Adidas deal will continue, sources said.
Last year, we announced that American jeweler Tiffany & Co. was collaborating Pharrell (see it here). Occasionally, he is seen wearing almond-shaped sunglasses rimmed in diamonds and with an emerald studding each temple, that he designed for the company, which is also now owned by LVMH.
In a post on Instagram on Tuesday, Tiffany executive vice president for product and communication Alexandre Arnault confirmed that jewelry designed with Williams was in the pipeline.
Photos Credit: Louis Vuitton’s Instagram
Source: The Wall Street Journal