When Louis Vuitton appointed record producer Pharrell Williams as the men’s creative director, many a question lingered on the tongues of fashion editors. The man behind nightclub bangers including Nelly’s Hot in Herre, Daft Punk’s Get Lucky, and Gwen Stefani’s Hollaback Girl has ventured into fashion before — first with streetwear brand Billionaire Boys Club, and later with collaborations including Moncler, Chanel, and Adidas — but he’s best known for his fluid and flashy personal style, laden with cheeky prints and studded shades. Upon Louis Vuitton’s announcement, Vogue Business succinctly asked, “Has fashion gone full hype?”
A quick glance at last night’s A-list attendees and pop-culture inspired pixel motifs suggests the answer is yes. However, that’s not to say Pharrell abandoned Louis Vuitton’s high-fashion roots. The show’s highest points were marked by the combination of classic Louis Vuitton glamour (think checkered patterns and LV logo belts) with Pharrell’s Hollywood-informed, left-of-field playfulness: a style best described as “high-meets-hype fashion”.
To start off, view the slides above: runway looks reveal a keen eye for cohesion — pixelated, earth-toned jackets permeate the collection. They’re at their best when paired with a more subtle garments; neutral-adjacent shorts and button-downs draw central colours like khaki, olive-green, white, and black from the camouflage-toned patterns. Earthy tones are a bold choice for the Spring-Summer season, which is often a time of fluorescent or pastel looks. Pharrell counters the simplicity of his pixelated palette with intricate patterns that highlight craftsmanship.
That said, not all of the collection came from the forest floor — Pharrell rejuvenated classic Louis Vuitton checkers with bright, primary colours. Bursting with viral potential, Pharrell Williams’ Louis Vuitton line made numerous references to his home state of Virginia, whose motto “Virginia is for lovers” was ripe for playful, Louis-Vuitton puns like “Virginia is for LVERS.” Accented by flashy colours and Pharrell’s sense of humour, the collection’s checkered notes conveyed a welcoming spirit from the French brand.
Make no mistake, however: “welcoming” doesn’t mean “low-brow.” The fashion show’s guest list could’ve easily been lifted from the Grammy’s or Met Gala, with guests like Beyonce, Jay-Z, and LeBron James doubling down on Louis Vuitton glamour. Megan Thee Stallion stunned in a gorgeous grunge look, while Zendaya glittered like a gold leaf. A pregnant Rihanna flexed her fashion status in an open, checkered denim jacket alongside a matching A$AP Rocky, who sported a bejewelled hat to round out the Britney-and-Justin-esque ensemble.
Meanwhile, Tyler the Creator showcased simplicity, opting for a plain white shirt and khakis to highlight a cherry-red Louis Vuitton bag. Jaden and Willow Smith, never a dull duo, exemplified versatility. Willow’s open jacket and pants subverted formality while Jaden’s black gloves gave a nod to punk’s resurgence.
In case it wasn’t clear, Pharrell was more than comfortable embracing his pop-culture status in the new endeavour. Leaning into his entertainment roots, Pharrell’s collection felt authentic — he wasn’t just slapping his name on a group project. The looks bear a novel, celebrity-chic flair, which, contrasted by Louis Vuitton’s classic checkered patterns and logos, is better suited for the red carpet than tabloid headlines.
There was a time, well before celebrity fashion houses and perfume lines, when entertainment and fashion were like oil and water. The exact cause of the supermodel celebrity is disputed — some attribute it to Anna Wintour’s influence, while others credit Gianni Versace. Regardless, fashion label fame and celebrity models have undoubtably shaped the industry we know today: the people wearing the clothes matter. Naomi Campbell, for instance, catapulted into fame after spending the 90s walking the runway. Pharrell’s transition from entertainment to luxury fashion is almost a mirror image of Naomi Campbell’s supermodel trajectory, proving that style yields stardom, and vice versa.
Louis Vuitton’s appointment of Pharrell suggests a forward-thinking approach from the longstanding fashion house, placing itself at the forefront of the industry with bold new directions. A recurring theme of sparkling jewels against bright leathers and bespoke fabrics symbolizes the blend of stardom and style, with reference to newfound glamour and classic designs alike. Only time will tell if Pharrell’s tenure at Louis Vuitton is a watershed moment or a mere a flash in the pan. For now, though, we’ll gladly enjoy the glamour.