An overview of Pharrell Williams’ menswear debut.

It was a mesmerizing scene on Paris’ Pont Neuf bridge when symphonies began to echo through the air, followed by a few hip-hop tracks before the gospel choir began chanting “JOY! JOY! JOY!” – Pharrell’s newest track.

Pharrell’s appointment as creative director coincided with the brand’s transformation into a “cultural brand” that extends beyond clothing and emphasizes Louis Vuitton’s ties to Paris, travel, music, and contemporary culture. Although Pharrell’s appointment did not travel well with everyone, let us not forget his longtime involvement in high-end fashion, including eyewear collaborations with Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton, Chanel, G-Star Raw, and Adidas.

Pharrell’s debut collection for Louis Vuitton focused on tailored pieces while leaving a bit of space to draw inspiration from oversized looks of the brand’s past. Occasionally embellished with crystals and studs, the collection balanced formality and casualness. Pixelated designs – which complimented Louis Vuitton’s Damier canvas beautifully – emerged as a prominent theme (Damoflage as per the show notes), incorporating army colours such as khaki green, black, beige, and brown.

With cut-out detailing and boxy leather coats, cropped blazers, and military-inspired overcoats, the ensembles heavily leaned toward dandyism. In his show notes, Williams described the dandy culture as an influence, citing “the attitude of the dandy…a loosely autobiographical tailored silhouette adapted in a contemporary approach to suiting and encrusted with pearls and crystals.”

The wide runway allowed for optimal visibility of the models at all times, creating a sense of immersion. A community spirit dominated the show’s finale, with all models walking out together and Pharrell himself later appearing on the runway accompanied by his team.

While the collection may not have been revolutionary in its design, it demonstrated a deliberate approach prioritising commercial viability. The clothing had a sense of familiarity and wearability, aligning with the pragmatic nature of an LVMH brand. However, Pharrell added his personal touch to the show, infusing it with genuine sentiment.

Overall, Pharrell’s debut at Louis Vuitton was akin to attending a theatre production where every aspect, such as costume and set design, comes together to create a jovial experience. The collection felt like a heartfelt offering, paying homage to Pharrell’s creative influences, his hometown, and the community that shaped him. It surpassed being a good show; it was an emotional one woven with sincerity.

Rand Al-Hadethi is an art, culture, and fashion writer who approaches all her creative endeavours with a penchant for storytelling. She explores the intersection of fashion, culture, and society and sheds light on talent and cultural movements across the Middle East and the world. Rand also publishes a bi-monthly themed substack newsletter called WebWeaver™. To reach Rand, email her at rand@khamsa5.com or follow her on social media @rundoozz.
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