Follow The Sun: Pharrell Talks About His Debut Collection At Louis Vuitton

Photo by Jalan and Jibril Durimel

Photo by Jalan and Jibril Durimel

For his debut collection at Louis Vuitton, men’s creative director and acclaimed musician PHARRELL pays tribute to his African heritage, and a long, collaborative history with the French house.

How did you approach your first collection and show for Louis Vuitton?

In moments like this, when you’ve been chosen to do something, the sun is shining on you. The quintessential question that I ask myself all the time, and ask people I care about, is, “Hey, if the sun is shining on you, what would you do with the light?” When the sun shined on me for an opportunity like this, it changed my life across the board. If I’m going to get this appointment, I’m going to use it to do two things: one, to share all my learnings as a perpetual student; and two, to share my love and appreciation. I’m choosing to shine a light back on this city, these people, all my friends here, who have kept me lifted all this time.

What is the premise of the collection?

For me, LV means LVERS. If you appreciate Louis Vuitton, you’re a lover of the curation. You love the product but deeper than that, it’s a love for the culture that embodies a like-mindedness of taste. The humans who buy and wear Louis Vuitton have five modes: dandy, which is tailoring for business and events; comfort, which is what you wear at home and to the gas station; resort, for when you’re on the beach; sport, for activity and working out; and finally, the core staples of the House, which I’m going to iterate on every season. It’s thinking across the board of the demographic. Everything you want to do, we made something for you.

“When you come from a culture that has been purposefully blocked and set in disadvantaged situations, you can’t imagine what’s even possible,” Pharrell muses. “But there’s this narrative that’s changing. I’m very honored to be a part of that.” Photo by Jalan and Jibril Durimel

Why did you choose the Damier patterns as a key component in the collection?

I came into this knowing that I wanted to make some serious indelible marks, the first of which was: I know the Monogram is historically a very dominant force within the House. I had the Bastille bag in Damier, I had shoes and boots in Damier. I saw it as an opportunity. The fact that it has the chessboard setup, we could use the grid as a platform to play with different artistic techniques. The first was to treat the blocks like 8-bit Atari graphics. I worked with ET Artist, who’s really good at it. The super powerful one is the Damoflage, which fuses Damier and camo. I wanted to make a print that makes people say, “Okay, that’s P. And that’s Damier.”

Why did you choose to re-imagine the Speedy bag for your first campaign?

The Speedy was always a men’s canvas bag until they made a smaller version for Audrey Hepburn in 1965. I wanted to take something I felt would be unisex and just make a great bag for humans. It is an everyday icon conceived for every walk of life. It’s inspired by Canal Street in New York. It’s flipping it on its head. I want to come in on a bag level and make a splash. Primary colors are where you start. Then you see the bag has wrinkles in it and that it’s droopy, and you know instantly that it’s not a regular Speedy. That’s not canvas. It’s butter-soft leather.

For his debut collection, Pharrell collaborated with artist and painter Henry Taylor. Taylor’s miniature portraits are embroidered on tailored suits, denim jackets, and accessories alongside the LV monogram.“That’s what my appointment is for. I put a particular focus on African descent because we don’t get enough of that light,” the creative director says. Photo by Jalan and Jibril Durimel

How did your personal relationship with Louis Vuitton evolve?

I was introduced to Louis Vuitton through rappers and the after-market clothing that was made by Dapper Dan out of Harlem. You’d see rag tops on cars made out of Louis Vuitton bag materials. We were blown away by that. I never thought I would be able to afford it. I don’t even know if I was necessarily interested in it for me, because it was just so next level. I started working in music and as things evolved, I met Marc Jacobs. In 2004, he asked Nigo and me to collaborate on the Millionaire sunglasses. In 2008, Pietro Bec- cari, who was at Louis Vuitton at the time, asked me to design a jewellery collection for the House. My first foray into fashion was because of Marc’s generosity at Louis Vuitton, and it only grew from my relationship with Pietro. Over the years, we stayed in touch. When he offered me the job as men’s creative director, I was excited, not only for the job, but to work with him again.

In your show notes, you pay tribute to “the giant before me.”

Virgil has always been a brother in spirit. Now, that is literally what we work with here. He left a lot of hits with the House. As far as I’m concerned, I’m collaborating with his spirit. I’m honored. When he got this appointment, I was really, really happy for him. Right until he started here, we were working together on JOOPITER, this online auction space we had. It was crazy what the connections were, and the respect he had for us, and which we continue to have for him. I can tell you that Virgil and me being here has to say to kids who look like us, “Oh, I can do anything. I can be anything.”

Photo by Jalan and Jibril Durimel

What does your appointment at Louis Vuitton mean to you?

When you come from a culture that has been purposefully blocked and set in disadvantaged situations, you can’t imagine what’s even possible. But there’s this narrative that’s changing. So many of us are being swept up from one place and landing in fertile soil in other places, and being treated and watered and sunned like all souls should be. I can say there is an impact in that way, which is changing. It’s not enough but it’s happening. I’m very honored to be a part of that. When I say the sun is shining on me—and it’s shining on all of us—is listen, this is a French house but they went right back to America and found another Black man, and gave me the keys.

Henry Taylor created artworks for the collection and appears in the filmic prelude. What does he represent to you?

Henry is a genius man and having him involved in this is beautiful, not only because he’s talented but because that’s what this platform is for. That’s what my appointment is for. We have all kinds of human beings as ambassadors but I put a particular focus on African descent because we don’t get enough of that light. That may sound like I have some sort of agenda, but I don’t have an agenda. I am the agenda. And I didn’t take this appointment. I was chosen. So, I’m doing what I was chosen to do. And Henry is one of those things.

Vogue Philippines: February 2024 Issue


Hair by Oummy Ghan. Makeup by Keana Vallet. Shot on location in Paris.

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