Financial markets and the fashion world have rallied around French fashion house Louis Vuitton after they announced their surprise signing of Grammy award-winning hip-hop artist Pharrell Williams as the new creative director of its menswear division.
Following the announcement, shares for the luxury maison jumped €7.40, before closing at €810.50 (~US$869 USD / AU$1,246). The company remains the largest in Europe, worth over €408 billion (~US$438 billion / AU$628 billion) after shares finished trading on Monday afternoon.
The appointment of Pharrell Williams – who is almost as well-known as a designer and tastemaker as he is for his music – to lead future collections from the label represents the brand doubling down on its expansion into men’s streetwear.
Williams will take over after the death of Virgil Abloh late last year, and will debut his collection for the label next year during Paris Fashion Week. This won’t be the first time the two have joined forces, having collaborated to release a pair of “Millionaire” sunglasses back in 2007.
Back in 2011, Williams worked with Nigo to launch Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream Apparel, blending luxury tailoring with casual jeans, t-shirts and footwear, more typical then of youth and city sub-cultures than European runways.
Pharrell has also collaborated with luxury brands like Chanel and Richard Mille in the past – he’s no stranger to high fashion.
Louis Vuitton was one of the first of the European fashion houses to anticipate the shift in consumer taste toward urban-inspired streetwear, launching partnerships with American label Supreme and Japanese designer Nigo), who Abloh described as having “helped us understand how luxury can relate to a new generation.”
When Louis Vuitton’s streetwear was first introduced by Abloh at Paris Fashion Week in 2018, it was met with mixed reviews from the establishment fashion world, but received wider praise and standing ovations from attending celebrities like Rhianna, Kanye West and his now ex-wife Kim Kardashian (all three of which have dabbled in the fashion world, too).
Abloh later generated controversy after fellow brands followed his lead, stating many of the styles that had coming define the first wave would be short-lived, predicting streetwear would be led by the discovery of new talents and was going to be “reborn again.”
Pharrell joining LV wasn’t on our cards for 2023 but it makes a lot of sense. Time will tell if he’ll be able to fill the not-insubstantial void left by Abloh, and help LV remain culturally relevant. At the very least, the markets back the move…