In three weeks and a day, Pharrell Williams will debut the Louis Vuitton menswear collection. The arrival of the superstar musician, producer, singer-songwriter and brand-builder was the most anticipated performance of the season, if not the year, and heralded a new phase in the relationship between fashion and celebrity. So far, the industry has been capitalizing on adjacencies, as we just witnessed at Cannes with the lighting collaboration Donatella Versace and pop star Dua Lipa.
Williams gets the keys as the June show time approaches – the date is moved from Vuitton’s usual Thursday slot to Tuesday, Paris Men’s Fashion Week Opening night of the 2010 – fashion watchers and LV collectors alike wondered how Williams’ vision would be because the house would be different from that of his friend and ex, Virgil Abloh. In that respect, this Cruise collection was a salutary reminder of the late designer’s signature. This is the work of the design studio established by Abloh.
Tailoring is one of Abloh’s columns. His shows typically open with suits, a category he’s grown more confident with as his time at LV progresses. Here we get a single-breasted two-piece in a camouflage pattern that upon closer inspection reveals to be composed of a world map. For the most part, though, the suit was toned down in favor of more luxe streetwear and sportswear with the signature he played such an important role in the popularity of the 2010 years: big Dimensional Damier plaid prints featured Epi leather-like textures on matching shirt and pant sets, camouflage wool sweatpants and tank tops with oversized LVs incorporated the pattern, and monogrammed denim pieces that looked like burnt.
Oxidation is the word used in the press statement. It explains that the collection “centers on the campfire culture as a universal symbol of unity: an illuminated place that draws us in and connects us. On the cusp of a new era in Meissen, the campfire is likewise a beacon of transition – the eve of a new dawn. ”
but there is room for other ideas and themes, including jackets, t-shirts and shorts with “Flyers” printed on them, with messages embedded (“a suitcase for six bottles and a Doll’s Suitcase”, “Rework, Rework, Repeat”, etc.) and artistic graphics, and another jacket with pearl embroidery that reads “Calligraphy and Violin Case”. What it refers to is unclear, but the notion that it might have a hidden meaning seems to be at the heart of its appeal.