The mega-luxury label Louis Vuitton has named multi-hyphenate musician and entrepreneur Pharrell Williams as its next artistic director of menswear. His position is effective immediately, and his debut collection will be presented during Paris Men’s Fashion Week in June 2023. Williams’ appointment at Louis Vuitton follows months of conjecture over who will succeed the late Virgil Abloh. Martine Rose, Grace Wales Bonner, Samuel Ross, and KidSuper creator Colm Dillane have all been mentioned as possible successors. Dillane was recently the guest designer for the brand’s Fall/Winter 2023 male line.
“The way Pharrell Williams breaches barriers across the numerous areas he investigates coincides with Louis Vuitton’s standing as a Cultural Maison, confirming its ideals of invention, pioneer spirit, and entrepreneurship,” according to the press release. This is Louis Vuitton’s first significant change under the new chairman and CEO, Pietro Beccari. Still, the decision to hire Williams may have been made before Beccari took over as CEO from Michael Burke.
Following Abloh, Williams is Louis Vuitton’s second African-American creative director. His links to the brand, however, date back to 2004, when he partnered with Marc Jacobs to develop the brand’s eyeglasses. Williams collaborated with the brand four years later, in 2008, to produce a jewelry collection. Since then, he has collaborated with various fashion and luxury labels such as Chanel, Moncler, and Adidas. He is also a co-founder of the streetwear brands Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream, a job he shares with Nigo, Kenzo‘s current creative director.
Following a tremendously successful partnership with Supreme in 2017, Louis Vuitton’s hiring of Williams shows the brand’s continued ambition to inject and reinforce its focus on streetwear. Under Abloh’s leadership, Louis Vuitton’s consumer base was enlarged to embrace a new demographic, and the company was diversified into fields such as gaming and sports.
According to the most recent financial data releases issued by LVMH, Louis Vuitton’s parent company, the brand now generates $21.4 billion in revenue. It would like to continue on this path, and bringing on Williams is one way to accomplish so. Aside from fashion, Williams is a Grammy Award-winning music producer and singer with 13 Grammy nominations and multiple Oscar nominations. He also has 14.3 million Instagram followers, creating a group that might add value to the company.
As Louis Vuitton continues on its journey to become a Cultural Maison, Williams’ appointment will serve to propel the company down this path. It has already began by collaborating with the renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama from the art world and using influencers to enter the current discourse. For example, consider the Louis Vuitton advertisement in which Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi play chess on the checkerboard canvas of a Louis Vuitton Damier attaché case. The entire media impact value of the campaign was $13.5 million.
Williams’ strong links to the US music scene make him a crucial new member as Louis Vuitton expands its presence in the music business and streetwear sector. Overall, this contributes to Beccari’s stated ambition of being a Cultural Maison and a leader in the area of luxury fashion.
“I am happy to welcome Pharrell Williams back home, after our collaborations in 2004 and 2008 for Louis Vuitton, as our new Men’s Creative Director,” Beccari said. His innovative perspective outside of fashion will surely guide Louis Vuitton into a new and exciting era.”