A Bold Move Towards a Celebrity-Driven Fashion Future
The fashion and entertainment industries are intertwined yet again as Louis Vuitton announced its new creative director for men’s wear: American rapper and producer, Pharrell Williams. The French luxury brand named Pharrell to the coveted position about 16 months after the sudden death of its previous men’s wear designer, Virgil Abloh. In an Instagram statement, the brand expressed that Pharrell, known as a “visionary” whose creativity expands from music to art and fashion, has established himself as a “cultural global icon.”
Many names were thrown around as potential successors to Virgil, including designers Grace Wales Bonner and Martine Rose, as well as Telfar Clemens and Colm Dillane, who was recently named as Louis Vuitton’s first-ever men’s wear guest designer. However, Pharrell, who has worked with the brand off and on since 2004, ultimately landed the high-profile creative director role in men’s fashion. The announcement marks the first major move by Louis Vuitton’s new CEO, Pietro Beccari, who joined the brand from Dior last month.
Pharrell brings to Louis Vuitton a diverse portfolio of experience, including his role as the first male ambassador for Chanel, his collaboration with Tiffany & Company, and his past creations of influential streetwear brands like Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream in partnership with Japanese designer Nigo. His first collection for Louis Vuitton will be shown in June at Men’s Fashion Week in Paris.
Pharrell’s appointment underscores an apparent trend among luxury goods makers to put their futures in the hands of multi-hyphenate celebrities, rather than professional designers. This trend has been exemplified by other high-profile entertainers like Rihanna, whose Fenty clothing line in partnership with LVMH shuttered in 2021, and Ye, who has become a fixture at fashion weeks around the world.
Spectacle has become a given at runway shows, with the recent Louis Vuitton men’s wear event in Paris featuring expensive sets, a front row of stars from the worlds of K-Pop, Hollywood, and hip-hop, and a supercharged performance by Spanish singer Rosalía. While men’s wear constitutes a relatively modest percentage of overall revenue for Louis Vuitton, it remains a source of optimism as the fastest growing sector in a luxury goods industry struggling against headwinds induced by the global pandemic and the loss of markets in China and Russia.
In light of this bold move, we can’t help but wonder what’s in store for the future of fashion as the entertainment and fashion industries continue to merge. Will fashion continue to be driven by celebrities with multi-hyphenate talents, or will professional designers take back the reins? Only time will tell, but one thing is for certain – we can expect Louis Vuitton’s new men’s wear collection to be a must-see event at Men’s Fashion Week in June.