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Pharrell Williams Fills First Collection for Louis Vuitton with Joy

Louis Vuitton presents a spirited line by Pharrell Williams

Four months ago on Valentine’s Day, Louis Vuitton appointed Pharrell Williams as the creative director of its men’s collections. Following the untimely passing of designer Virgil Abloh in November 2021, the news was met with curiosity and anticipation. For those in Paris last night for the maison’s Spring/Summer 2024 debut show with Williams at the helm, a pure unabashed joy was felt, permeating the oldest bridge across the Seine in Paris. 

For the multihyphenate’s star-studded audience in attendance—cue Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Lenny Kravitz, Rihanna, A$AP Rocky, Swizz Beatz, Nigo, Naomi Campbell, KAWS, J Balvin, Kim Kardashian, and Megan Thee Stallion, among others—that joy came in the form of fashion, of course, but music aplenty and a near-indescribable atmosphere, too. Set across the entire Pont Neuf bridge was a set, show, and multi-part musical performance directed by Williams, all inspired by the sun. 

Louis Vuitton.

Courtesy of Louis Vuitton.

A collection by Pharrell Williams for Louis Vuitton that evokes warmth

A universal source of life, the show notes described, the sun provides a unique radiance that energizes, unifies, and heals us. Regardless of culture or creed, the sun teaches us to shine light in the form of love back onto humanity. To honor this acknowledgment, Williams ensured a solar presence last night, radiating in the form of graphics and a warm color palette, as well as decorations, embellishments, and accessories that glistened. 

First, the sun’s power was visual. Adjacent to Louis Vuitton studios, the famous overpass was covered in a pale yellow and cream-colored Damier print carpet, flanked by stadium seats and a live choir and orchestra divided into two groups on either side. At the start of the runway, panels of broad-beamed floodlights lit the platform before the tune of Peace Be Still by Williams featuring Lang Lang began the show. On the bridge, which metaphorically stood for a connection between Paris and Williams’s home state of Virginia, models walked with purpose. A new collection of garments rooted in innovation, comfort, elegance, and expression began to unfold, with classic prints, patterns, and motifs reimagined. From the start, we recognized the iconic Damier motif reimagined several times—first in a new pattern Williams is calling “Damoflage.”

Combining the heritage of the brand’s Damier pattern with camouflage, the contemporary take was used in workwear, sleepwear, denim, accessories, knitwear, and in the jacquard of tailored pieces. Outdoor sensibility and relaxed elegance merged, too, with landscape motifs in similar Damoflage prints placed on coats, blousons, shirts, and all-over laser-cut bags in the Louis Vuitton flower pattern. 

Louis Vuitton.

Courtesy of Louis Vuitton.

A collection by Pharrell Williams filled with bags, boots, and more

Of note were also Williams’s varsity jackets, an homage to his personal memories at Princess Anne High School in Virginia Beach. “Louis Vuitton Lovers” was scrawled on many of the style’s backs, recalling the U.S. state’s motto, “Virginia is for Lovers.” Through the combination of American style and Parisian atelier work, the jackets also explore the study of an athletic-looking wardrobe, heightened through pieces like tracksuits and knitwear, now embellished with the Louis Vuitton monogram or pearl embroideries. Other interpretations and expressions of synaesthesia were the sun-drenched primary hues, Damoflage boots and accessories, and even an eight-bit Atari pixel edition pattern by ET Artist. Boxy and flared trousers, box-pleat shorts, band-collared tunics, sharp suits, and the occasional crystal detailing all represented Williams’s play with the “Dandy” dress code, epitomizing his genuine interest in sartorialism.

Then, the sun’s intensity was transported to Paris through song. An unreleased piece named “Chains & Whips” by the group Clipse, created by Pusha T and Malice, pushed models to loosen up and embody next season’s style. Bags hit a high note, first with the Speedy, in a new adaptation that conjured the mentality of Canal Street in New York. Hustle, attitude, and personality took to the everyday iconic style, honoring the trapezoid lines of the bag with a silkscreen-printed Monogram that’s blurred and artisanal, in several colors and nine varieties. Our favorite, though, was the soft leather shopper tote with appliqué letters that imitated the paper carrier bags.

Louis Vuitton.

Courtesy of Louis Vuitton.

A new Louis Vuitton show filled with JOY

As the choir erupted in a powerful rendition of JOY (Unspeakable) by Voices of Fire featuring Williams, they were dressed in silk robes, singing, “when the blessings come through” after prayer. Lights pulsed across the stage and crowd, and even onto the nearby Parisian buildings and streets nearby.  

In addition to Damoflage canvas bags with oversized motifs, black tie bags, leather backpacks, Allover styles embossed with gold or silver “LV” monograms, and extra-large Epi bags, the brand’s prized trunk was seen in a monogrammed copper. Evoking the healing properties the material provides to all living organisms, copper is known for its transformation in the light of the sun, looping back to Williams’s divine inspiration. 

As the choir continued its moving performance, a Bateaux Mouches boat passed under Pont Neuf. Almost immediately, it was mirrored on the runway in the form of a bag—in boat shape and in monogrammed canvas, paying tribute to the city’s famed boats that traverse the Seine. Special for the collection, too, was a collaboration with the American artist Henry Taylor, who adorned Alma bags with embroideries of his artworks, featuring figures who played a part in his life. 

Louis Vuitton.

Courtesy of Louis Vuitton.

Louis Vuitton shows nuance in comfort

Above and below more looks that passed, we realized the power of comfortable shoes and sunglasses—two accessories that are pivotal to summer style. New to the season were nubuck bowling shoes, magnified Mary-Janes, an “LV” monogram-crested leather hotel slipper in an array of bold colors, a leather LV Sport sneaker, a crocodile LV Trainer Maxi, glazed leather penny loafers, and many styles seen featuring the waffle-relief LV Chunky sole. And albeit more appropriate for the spring months, a certain shoe caught our eye for its shape, material, and detailing: shearling slippers in Monogram intarsia, with an outsole embossed in a bear’s footprint.

Distinct was also the Super Zoom goggle-esque sunglasses, designed for focus with caps made in the style of camera lenses. Crafted for the wearer to see the world through color-tinted glasses, many were three-dimensional, and encrusted with pearls or framed by black wire. To complement, a line of ornamented costume jewelry was seen—from more pearls and flower pendants to crystal earrings and rope chains. 

Louis Vuitton.

Courtesy of Louis Vuitton.

The Louis Vuitton show finale, heightened by Pharrell Williams and Jay-Z

For the finale, Williams took to the runway for a private walk and bow before introducing his entire atelier to the audience. Dressed in a matching Damoflage single-breasted jacket and trousers, he was accessories by his go-to custom Tiffany & Co. sunglasses—created in 18k yellow gold with round brilliant and baguette diamonds of over 20 total carats. After embracing his children and wife, Helen Lasichanh, Williams bowed once again with prayer hands to his team and audience. Shortly after, he personally took to the stage and brought out his longtime friend and collaborator, Jay-Z, for a special performance of songs including PSA, I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me), and Frontin’.

Louis Vuitton.

Courtesy of Louis Vuitton.

And for those not in attendance, Louis Vuitton presented a film named Pupil King, starting with a fashion show prelude filmed on the bank of the Seine with a view of Pont Neuf. Directed by Todd Tourso it features a brief conversation between the American comedian Jerrod Carmichael and artist Henry Taylor. Reflecting the show’s themes of love, opportunity, empowerment, and encouragement, the scene of exchange explores topics of the human condition, including passion, aspiration, perseverance, and action. 

“This moment is dedicated to the giant before me,” said Williams in a statement. “To our brother in spirit.”

Louis Vuitton.

Courtesy of Louis Vuitton.

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COVER Winter Issue 2024 Ludovic Nkoth

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Whitewall's Winter 2024 cover story spotlights the artist just as his time with the L’Académie des Beaux-Arts Residency was wrapping up.
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