Pharrell Williams new director Louis Vuitton: ‘Fashion is becoming a kind of pop culture’

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Pharrell Williams at the Grammy Awards earlier this month
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  • Ricky Hendriks

After more than a year, Louis Vuitton has a new creative director with Pharrell Williams, it was announced yesterday. With Williams, there will not be a classically trained designer at the helm, but someone who is best known as a pop star, musician and for songs such as Happy and Get Lucky.

Still, the choice for Williams is not very remarkable. His appointment is “leading the way for where fashion is going,” says fashion journalist Aynouk Tan. “The emphasis is now much more on the tone of voice, so what a brand creates in terms of atmosphere, choice of models and music, for example, instead of how a piece of clothing is put together or what material it is made of.”

“This is an example of how fashion has become more and more pop culture,” says fashion journalist Milou van Rossum.

Creative visionary

Although best known from music, 49-year-old Williams is no stranger to the fashion world: he runs the streetwear label Billionaire Boys Club with designer Nigo and has already designed sunglasses for Vuitton.

“Pharrell Williams is a visionary whose creative universes stretch from music to art to fashion, making him a cultural, global icon over the past 20 years,” Louis Vuitton wrote in a press release last night.

The fashion brand had been looking for a successor to Virgil Abloh for some time, who died of a rare form of cancer at the end of 2021. Abloh was also not a classically trained designer when he started at Vuitton in 2018.

“At his first show, he handed out an ABC booklet in which the first sentence was written: “I am not a designer,” says Van Rossum. With the appointment of Williams, Vuitton therefore seems to be continuing in that line. about brands, branding and appearance than really purely about the designer. It almost becomes a kind of merchandise of a world you want to belong to.”

Tan: “In the past, designers were really just that and you didn’t see them very clearly. But Williams can become much more of a showcase for the brand.”

Williams’ predecessor Abloh was the fashion brand’s first black creative director in 2018. He has started conversations about inclusivity and lack of diversity in the fashion world, says Aynouk Tan. “I remember Kanye and Virgil crying in each other’s arms in 2018 when Virgil put on a show with predominantly black models and models of color. They are still underrepresented in the fashion industry, including in leadership positions.”

Van Rossum: “The brand has become more inclusive under Abloh’s leadership and they probably want to continue that with the choice for Williams.”

“The conversations Virgil has initiated have a social impact beyond the fashion world as well,” says Tan. “It’s good that those issues are being put on the map and I hope that’s a line that Pharrell can continue.”

Slightly more mainstream

Van Rossum finds it difficult to speculate about expectations and comparisons with Abloh. “Because we haven’t seen anything yet. Virgil has been a bit under the radar in the beginning and has grown into a huge hero. It will be exciting in the coming time.”

Williams has a really good fashion sense, says Tan. “He is good at capturing the spirit of the times: what is possible and what is not.” The difference between Abloh and Williams is mainly that the latter is a bit more mainstream, Tan thinks: “Virgil took risks, he could make ugly things cool, like Crocs. Williams is a bit less courageous in that, but appeals to a wider audience. ” Williams’ first collection will be shown during Parisian menswear in June.

  • Louis Vuitton designer and founder Off-White Virgil Abloh (41) passed away
  • Without a fashion education, the boss of Louis Vuitton
  • Culture & Media

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