Louis Vuitton has named the musical artist and entrepreneur Pharrell Williams its new men’s fashion director, succeeding Virgil Abloh, who died in November 2021. Pharrell will show his first collection in June.
“I am glad to welcome Pharrell back home, after our collaborations in 2004 and 2008 for Louis Vuitton,” the company’s chief executive, Pietro Beccari, said in a statement on Tuesday. “His creative vision beyond fashion will undoubtedly lead Louis Vuitton towards a new and very exciting chapter.”
There has been a lot of speculation about who might be appointed with names like Grace Wales Bonner, Martine Rose, and Jonathan Anderson going through the rumor mill. One thing seems likely: Williams, who is 49, might have been under consideration for a while since Beccari only recently became CEO of Vuitton, succeeding Michael Burke, who held the post for a decade. A creative appointment that important doesn’t happen in a matter of weeks. Beccari was previously chief executive of Dior, which, like Vuitton, is controlled by LVMH.
Aside from being a major artist — with 13 Grammy Awards and two Academy Award nominations, for Original Song (“Happy”) and as a co-producer for Best Picture (Hidden Figures) — Williams has long been a catalyst in fashion at a number of levels. He founded, with Nigo, the apparel brand Billionaire Boys Club. He’s been associated with Chanel; he attended the house’s Métiers d’Art show in Dakar last December. And he continues to be involved in film and television projects as well as a company related to well-being and a hospitality partnership in Miami.
Williams is no doubt a man of ideas, with a feeling for the Zeitgeist, but perhaps the real test is whether he can dedicate himself fully to being a creative director of a luxury-goods house. His résumé suggests he excels at doing many different things — obviously at doing collabs. But being a creative director at a brand the size of Vuitton is enormously demanding, if he’s to create a new and distinctive ethos, and not simply a series of high moments. It’s such an opportunity for him and the company.