After Virgil Abloh, the second Black American designer is a musician and entrepreneur.
Louis Vuitton has named Pharrell Williams, an American musician and fashion entrepreneur, as its creative director for menswear.
The previous incumbent was Virgil Abloh, who died in November 2021.
This is only the second time that a Black American designer holds a top position at the French luxury house. When he was appointed as head of the French luxury house in March 2018, Abloh made history.
Williams, a long-standing supporter and friend of Abloh’s, has been appointed. This puts an end to months of speculation about the next person to fill this highly sought-after role.
Many insiders were surprised by the sudden announcement of Williams, who was a rising talent like the Jamaican-British designers Martine rose and Grace Wales Bonner.
His appointment is a result of the ongoing intersection of streetwear and luxury sectors and hints at where LVMH hopes to take the brand.
Abloh was widely praised as a fashion entrepreneur and fashion maverick. Abloh reinvented luxury by combining it with the world’s hype culture and hip-hop, thereby attracting a younger and more diverse consumer.
In a statement by Louis Vuitton, Williams was called a “visionary” whose creative universes extend from music to art and fashion. Louis Vuitton’s status as a culture maison reinforces his values of innovation and pioneer spirit, as well as the way he crosses boundaries between the different worlds he explores, which aligns with Louis Vuitton.
His first collection will be unveiled during Paris’ men’s fashion week, in June 2024.
Williams rose to fame in the 1990s when he was part of the Neptunes (a hip-hop production and songwriting duo that he founded with Chad Hugo). They collaborated with Gwen Stefani, Snoop Dogg, and others.
Williams is considered one of the most influential music producers of today. He holds 13 Grammy Awards and his song Happy was nominated in 2014 for an Academy Award.
He is a prolific entrepreneur and regularly sits in the front row at fashion week. He also co-owns the Human Made streetwear label with Kenzo’s creative director Nigo. He is also responsible for his brand Billionaire Boys Club Ice Cream.
Williams has been a partner with Adidas Originals for many years and recently launched Humanrace, a skincare brand.
He designed a Chanel collection in 2019, while he presented a Tiffany design collection in January 2022. The LVMH group acquired Tiffany in 2021.
He also collaborated previously with Louis Vuitton. A collection of sunglasses that he designed for the brand in 2008 was reissued in 2018 by Abloh.
Pietro Beccari (Louis Vuitton chairman and CEO) posted a statement on Louis Vuitton’s Instagram stating that Pharrell was back in the country after they collaborated in 2004/2008 for Louis Vuitton. He is now our men’s creative chief. Louis Vuitton will be able to take his creative vision and move into a new chapter with him.
Williams’ appointment is Beccari’s first major move since joining the house in January. He was previously the Dior chief.
Louis Vuitton’s owner, LVMH, had a record-breaking year in 2022. It recorded revenues of EUR79.2bn and profits of EUR21.1bn. Both are up 23%. It is the largest company listed on the European stock exchange. The conglomerate’s chief executive Bernard Arnault was named the world’s wealthiest person in December, pushing Elon Musk from the top spot.