Pharrell Louis Vuitton Camo Damier Suit

A DEEP DIVE INTO PHARRELL’S DEBUT AT LOUIS VUITTON

A DEEP DIVE INTO PHARRELL’S DEBUT AT LOUIS VUITTON

by Juliette Eleuterio
7 min
@pharrell ©

Ever since Pharrell was announced to take over Louis Vuitton after Virgil Abloh’s passing, the talk was loud, and the stakes high. Now that the collection is here, Pharrell’s debut has shown that only he could have paid such a beautiful tribute to his late friend, putting on a show that stood for everything Virgil worked towards.

LOUIS VUITTON©

Let’s reel it back in for a second. By being appointed artistic director at Louis Vuitton in 2018, Abloh had already made history as the first African American to lead a French fashion house. His impact was immeasurable, turning the codes of luxury on its head with his streetwear-meets-luxury take. He brought diversity into the brand and his monogrammed accessories, deconstructed suits, puffed-out puffers and even the FW21 show where he covered models’ faces in metallic pieces, became so integral to what Louis Vuitton now is today and what the word ‘streetwear’ means today.

LOUIS VUITTON©

By the time it was announced that Abloh was secretly battling cancer two years before his death, it seemed as though his chapter at Louis Vuitton had just started, with so much more to give. The question of who would take over was one drowning in speculation – would it be Martine Rose? Would it be Telfar Clemens? In the meantime though, LV still had shows to produce, one of which was created by guest designer Colm Dillane of Kidsuper for FW23, who then himself became a suspected contender for the role.

LOUIS VUITTON©

Then the news broke: Pharrell was taking over. LVMH’s choice made sense for LVMH. Choosing Pharrel, a household name, means buzz. While most people know Pharrell for his music, he has had a lengthy career in fashion, from starting his own brand Billionaire Boys Club with NIGO, now at Kenzo, to actually designing ‘Millionaire’ sunglasses (we were hoping for that reference) in 2004, as well as being in the same circles as Abloh himself.

LOUIS VUITTON©

Whether you like it or not, this direction seems to be sticking, and considering Pharrell’s collection, it’s going to stick for a while. The show was obviously a high-stake one and Louis Vuitton said “we’ve got the budget for that”, with celebrity attendees including some of Pharrell’s very own friends, like Rihanna and A$AP Rocky both decked out in custom Pharrell LV, Jay Z and Beyoncé vibing throughout the show next to LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault, and special runway appearances from Dave and Pusha T.

This SS24 collection is easily referred to as “Pharrell’s collection” rather than “Louis Vuitton’s collection”, but tonight, it was a collection for Virgil. Titled “LoVers” – a message we saw written on ties, berets and jackets – with a capital ‘V’ for Virgil, the show took place at the historic Pont Neuf, which had been decorated in a golden LV signature Damier pattern just for the occasion. 

LOUIS VUITTON©

Considered one of the oldest bridges in Paris, choosing to showcase the collection there is significant in part parts – firstly, it’s a sign of transition, going from one side to the other, from Virgil to Pharrell; secondly, the Pont Neuf is connected to major sites in Paris, from the Musée du Louvre to the shopping street of Rivoli and the cathedral of Notre Dame, in a way like both Pharrell and Virgil are connected to so many creatives and influential figures in the industry.

LOUIS VUITTON©

Continuing on what Virgil had brought the French maison, Pharrell gave us diversity, with walking models from all backgrounds and all ages, as well as infusing his collection with his culturally-savvy mindset. Having teased his vision for the show with the show with a campaign that featured a pregnant Rihanna wearing a pixelated leather jacket, and through Pharrell and his Paris team’s new Instagram account earlier today which saw the artistic director wearing pixelated army-coloured trousers (and the nonchalant, totally done on purpose placement of the Louis Starbucks cup – did you spot it on the runway?), the pixels came in full force this season.

The house’s classic Damier print, and its Pharrellified riff through a pixelated version, became the two main visual cues this season. Both were seen on just about every piece on the runway, from a pair of flared leather black and yellow trousers to scarves, boots, a slashed trench coat, a suit, and on denim pieces. While this may have been an homage to Virgil, Pharrell has his own clear direction for the brand.

Because it’s Louis Vuitton, historically known for its trunks and travel bags, Pharrell went ham on the accessories this season. We saw all the classics – trunks of all sizes, backpacks, messenger bags, handbags – both in Louis Vuitton’s typical brown lettered and modified monogram, as well as in the Damier and pixel print. We also saw some unexpected ones, like a mini duffle attached to trousers’ belt loops and a boat-shaped monogrammed bag, fitting the surroundings of the river Seine and a quick nod to Abloh’s plane bag. Louis Vuitton said “we want more”, sending out actually golf cart-like cars down the runway, each carrying an array of trunks.

LOUIS VUITTON©

Ending on a high, the gospel choir Voices of Fire, who also happened to be wearing that pixelated pattern in a grey and white version on their robes, belted out into a Pharrell-produced song titled Joy (Unspeakable) that praised “joy” itself. In fact, the whole evening was a celebration of joy of what has been and what will continue to be achieved at the house, rather than what has been lost. 

@culted I'm not crying you are 🥲 The Voices of Fire choir closing @pharrell's debut for @louisvuitton at Paris Fashion Week. #pharrell #pharrelllouisvuitton #pharrellwilliams #choir #gospelchoir #voicesoffire #louisvuitton #lv #lvshow #louisvuittonshow #parisfashionweek #parisfashionweek2023 #pfw #fashion #music #fyp ♬ original sound – CULTED

To end of the night, Pharrell walked out as the choir welcomed him onto the bridge, himself wearing an army-coloured pixelated two piece, matching cap, and some diamenté round sunglasses. He thanked and showed support to those surrounding him, his family who also wore the army-coloured pixels, Bernard Arnault and the entire Louis Vuitton team who also stepped out onto the runway, and most importantly, he pointed to the sky, giving his acknowledgements to a very special and dear friend. 

LOUIS VUITTON©

More on CULTED

See: HOW PHARRELL’S FASHION CAREER WENT FROM BIG HATS TO BIG BRANDS

See: HERE’S WHAT’S ABOUT TO GO DOWN AT PARIS MEN’S FASHION WEEK

in other news

Comment

JOIN THE CULTED COMMUNITY TO GET THE LATEST ON FASHION, ART AND CULTURE