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Pharrell Williams’ First Collection is Out


Paris, 4 January 2024

In a blend of haute couture and contemporary cultural spirit, Pharrell Williams’ first collection for Louis Vuitton made a spectacular entry into the fashion world.

With dedicated store concepts unveiled in over 50 locations worldwide, this marks the brand’s most significant launch in men’s clothing to date.

The collection, which debuted last June, has since captured media attention and, with its arrival in stores this Thursday, faces its first commercial success test.

Louis Vuitton doubled down with spectacular activations, including a temporary location on the famous Champs-Élysées Avenue in Paris and a makeover of its flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York, both adorned with the collection’s signature checkerboard pattern.

This design choice is the cornerstone of the Spring 2024 collection.

In London, Louis Vuitton went big with a pop-up and 16 dedicated window displays at the luxury department store Selfridges, and a permanent ephemeral space revisited in Seoul.

These installations will remain in place for a duration of one to three months, depending on the location.

Simultaneously, the French luxury brand plans to host in-store events, DJ residencies, and culinary concepts, reflecting Vuitton’s positioning as a “cultural” brand with extended reach into segments such as sports, gaming, music, and art.

The launch of this collection coincides with a campaign featuring basketball superstar LeBron James, who promotes Williams’ new interpretation of the Speedy bag.

A 24-hour global digital tour of the bag’s design will be launched, showcasing CGI renderings of the new Speedy P9 traveling from Shanghai to Paris via the brand’s social media channels and integrated app filters.

While Pietro Beccari, CEO of Louis Vuitton, was not available to comment on the launch, the brand described this venture as its most significant men’s clothing activation to date.

Pharrell Williams took advantage of his presence at Vuitton’s first pre-autumn men’s show in Hong Kong to undertake a brief business trip to China in early December.

This coincided with the rollout of three giant inflatable Speedy bags: one outside the Louis Vuitton flagship store in Chengdu and two in Shanghai, one of which even floated on the Huangpu River.

“I absolutely wanted to make my mark with the bags and trunks,” Williams told WWD in Shanghai. “And it seems that when people think of nice handbags, of luxury handbags, the first thing that comes to most people’s minds is the Speedy.”

The handbag was the centerpiece of the musician’s first impressive show in June on the Pont Neuf in Paris, which attracted celebrities such as Beyoncé, Zendaya, and Rihanna, and concluded with a live performance by Jay-Z.

The show was the highest-ranked of the men’s season, generating an impressive media impact value of $42.6 million, according to data analytics firm Launchmetrics. The event broke records, accumulating 775 million views across Vuitton’s platforms and an additional 300 million video views on press accounts.

Following the show, Louis Vuitton crossed the 3 million subscriber mark on YouTube, becoming the most followed luxury brand on the platform, with the main show film gathering 16 million views.

Vuitton is betting on the new primary-colored handbags, initially teased in a campaign featuring a pregnant Rihanna, to boost sales.

The Speedy P9, made from calf leather rather than canvas, fits into a long-term upscale strategy for Vuitton’s leather goods.

“It’s a different vibe, and it’s just kind of an opportunity to let people know that our work, our partnership, and our collaboration is about leveling up, and not just by a few steps, but by several floors,” Williams explained. “We were already using very beautiful textiles, and there was a lot of craftsmanship that was already extremely refined, but we can’t stop there.”

The bag will be available in a limited network of stores worldwide, with a strategy focused on exclusivity that is expected to generate waiting lists.

In Paris, the Speedy P9 can be viewed by special request in an entirely black “secret room” on the first floor.

Most of the highly publicized Speedy P9s in crocodile, adorned with gold and diamonds and priced at the exorbitant sum of one million euros, have been sold, according to a spokesperson for Vuitton.

The brand did not specify how many units were produced.

The entrance to Vuitton’s temporary residency space at 100 Avenue des Champs-Élysées is covered with a golden circular version of the brand’s iconic Damier checkerboard pattern, echoing the sunbeam pattern on the stained glass invitations for the June show.

Inside, gold and silver mirror panels recall the giant gold Damier pattern that covered the sidewalk of the bridge serving as the runway.

The store concept also incorporates Parisian landmarks such as the traditional dark green bookseller stands on the banks of the Seine and the Morris columns used for posting advertisements, which date back to the 19th century.

The Paris activation spans three floors.

A basement space is lined with wooden shelving in the shape of speakers, a nod to the recording studio Williams installed at the brand’s headquarters.

It houses clothing and accessories featuring his new Damoflage pattern, a pixelated design that combines the Damier tiles with camouflage and the LVers emblem.

Novelty items include Nanogram portable speakers, a sneaker trunk with a transparent front window, and a reusable coffee cup with a straw engraved with the golden metallic monogram, similar to the one used by Williams.

On the ground floor, a giant screen broadcasts images of the show behind a row of mannequins. It hosts accessories, including jewelry, offering fluid gender options, such as the brooch with a pearl chain worn by James in the advertising campaign.

These echo the “dandy club” on the first floor, a space with pale green walls adorned with LV coat of arms, dedicated to dressier outfits and exotic leather bags.

Visitors will be able to participate in photo sessions in a Parisian kiosk and create personalized Louis Vuitton posters, the brand stated in a press release.

Other venues will showcase variations on the same theme, with the Selfridges pop-up featuring a reinvented version of the Pont Neuf bridge made from 3D cubes.

Visitors are invited to walk through the bridge arches where a musical installation plays the show’s soundtrack, featuring “Joy (Unspeakable)” performed by the gospel choir Voices of Fire.

The golden miniature reconstitution of the Pont Neuf is one of two global installation models, the other being a small-scale reconstruction of Parisian buildings and monuments.

In Seoul, the launch will be accompanied by an in-store culinary animation, highlighting Vuitton’s rising presence in the dining segment.

In some locations, purchases will be packaged in limited edition bags featuring the Damoflage pattern and the LVers logo.

The sales staff will wear custom uniforms, consisting of a white Damoflage pattern suit with a matching shirt, a golden LVers pin, and white sneakers, matching the looks worn by members of the live orchestra that performed during the show.

Pharrell Williams and Louis Vuitton, by merging traditional elegance with a contemporary cultural touch, seem to have succeeded in creating more than a fashion collection – an immersive brand experience that resonates well beyond traditional fashion runways.

With pieces already sold out and waiting lists forming, Williams’ first collection for Louis Vuitton is on its way to becoming a landmark in contemporary fashion history.

Sources: WWD

Image Credits: WWD/Louis Vuitton

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