Pharrell Williams’ fourth show as creative director of menswear at Louis Vuitton took place in the gardens of the Unesco building in Paris. A video shared on Instagram before the show emphasized the international nature of the location, and the importance of diversity. Once the show began, however, a theme emerged that is perhaps more front of mind for those in Paris – the Olympics and the Euros.

There were sporting references throughout, especially to football. Some models wore shirts with “LVFC” written across them, while one had a bag shaped like a football, covered in the famous LV monogram. Another had a jacket referencing motocross. It should be noted that LVMH, Louis Vuitton’s parent company, is sponsoring the Olympic Games.

While most luxury brands have phased out the use of fur, Williams has continued to use it, despite being called out by Peta. Four of the outfits here featured fur, including a knee-length, wide-shouldered fur coat, and shorter jackets.

After the show, Williams – dressed in his uniform of bootcut denim, sunglasses and cowboy hat – greeted celebrity guests including Burna Boy, Stormzy, Michael Fassbender and – on theme – the French basketball ace Victor Wembanyama.

While excited about the Olympics, Williams said the theme went beyond sport. “[It is] the celebration of human athletic prowess,” he said. “[We are] just committed to that notion [to] show the world how beautiful we are as a species from the Blackest of the Black to the whitest of the white.”

This came through in the casting of the show and how the models’ outfits were designed to match with their different skin tones.

Ultimately, he said, the show was designed to be “about unity and the oneness of what one could look like when you just invite everybody in as a whole. We are as appreciative of this opportunity and this platform that is at Louis Vuitton.”

Asked why he continued to use fur, Williams said he saw it as part of the creative process. “[We use it] for the same reason that anyone uses leather. For me, it’s about the designers expressing ourselves through different textile platforms. Love and respect to anybody that has opinions and feelings about whatever. That’s what democracy is all about.”

Williams is perhaps one of culture’s most famous multitaskers – as a designer, singer, music producer and founder of the skincare brand Humanrace. He continues to be prolific on all fronts. For a quick taste of a multihyphenate’s work schedule, go to his Instagram – where a teaser of the Louis Vuitton show is preceded by a post of him in the studio as a producer, working on a song for the latest film in the Minions franchise. This mix of culture and fashion is what sealed his appointment at Louis Vuitton last year.

LVMH’s sales grew 9% in the last quarter of 2023, down from 17% in previous quarter. While the conglomerate does not reveal figures for specific brands, it’s thought that Louis Vuitton accounts for about half of the sales. If its menswear is only about 5% of that, the optics of having Williams – a huge cultural influencer – at the brand means much more. “That’s besides the point,” Erwan Rambourg, the global head of consumer and retail research at HSBC, told the Financial Times last year. “The point is the halo effect.”

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