The American musician and fashion entrepreneur Pharrell Williams was named Creative Director of Louis Vuitton Men’s Fashion.
The role was previously held by Virgil Abloh passed away in November 2021.
This is only the second time a black American designer has held a senior position at the French luxury house. Abloh made history as the first when he was nominated in March 2018.
A longtime supporter and friend of Abloh, Williams’ appointment ends months of speculation about who would next take on the coveted role.
Emerging talents such as Jamaican-British designers Martine Rose and Grace Wales Bonner have reportedly been discussed before, so for many insiders Williams’ announcement was somewhat unexpected.
However, his appointment reflects the continued intersection of the luxury and streetwear sectors and hints at the direction LVMH wants to take for the brand.
Abloh, who has been hailed as a fashion maverick, has been widely praised for broadening the appeal of Louis Vuitton. He revives the idea of luxury by marrying it to the worlds of hip-hop and hypeand in doing so, appeal to a more diverse and younger consumer.
In a statement from Louis Vuitton to announce Williams’ appointment, the rapper was described as a “visionary whose creative worlds span from music to art and fashion. The way he breaks boundaries through the different worlds he explore aligns with Louis Vuitton’s status as a cultural Housereinforcing its values of innovation, pioneering spirit and entrepreneurship”.
His first collection will be unveiled in June 2024 during Men’s Fashion Week in Paris.
Williams first rose to prominence in the 1990s as part of the Neptunes, a hip-hop songwriting and production duo he formed with Chad Hugo. They have worked with artists such as Gwen Stefani and Snoop Dogg.
Considered one of the most influential music producers of the 21st century, Williams holds 13 Grammy Awards and in 2014 his song Happy was nominated for an Academy Award.
A prolific entrepreneur, he regularly sits front row at fashion weeks and co-owns streetwear brand Human Made with Kenzo’s creative director, Nigo. He also oversees his own labels Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream.
Williams has a long-standing partnership with Adidas Originals and recently launched a Humanrace skincare line.
In 2019, he designed a collection for Chanel, while in January 2022, he unveiled a design collection with Tiffany, the famous jewelry brand acquired by the LVMH group in 2021.
He also previously collaborated with Louis Vuitton. A line of sunglasses he created for the brand in 2008 was re-released by Abloh in 2018.
In a statement released on Louis Vuitton Instagram, Pietro Beccari, President and CEO of Louis Vuitton, said: “I am happy to welcome Pharrell back to us, after our collaborations in 2004 and 2008 for Louis Vuitton, as our new creative director for men. . His creative vision beyond fashion will undoubtedly lead Louis Vuitton to a very exciting new chapter.
Williams’ appointment is one of Beccari’s first big moves since joining the house in January. He previously ran Dior.
The LVMH group, owner of Louis Vuitton, benefited a record year in 2022, recording revenue of €79.2bn (£69.9bn) and profit of €21.1bn, both up 23%. It is now the largest company on the European stock market. In December, Bernard Arnault, the chief executive of the conglomerate, was named the richest person in the world, pushing Elon Musk from the top spot.