For decades, Pharrell has articulated a hyper-modern sense of style that now resonates deeply with a new generation of fashion fans. “When you listen to yourself and you’re comfortable in who you are, you wear what you feel like fits and looks right on you. And that’s it,” he told GQ in 2019, when he fronted the New Masculinity Issue wearing a ballgown puffer. In the early-2000s, as the frontman of N.E.R.D., he broke the mold of hip-hop style by integrating elements of skateboarder-wear. His evolving sensibility eventually predicted the rise of gender-neutral clothing when he embraced womenswear designs by then-Céline creative director Phoebe Philo, and he became the first man to appear in a Chanel ad in 2017.
The ties between Pharrell and LVMH had been tightening in the lead-up to the appointment. LVMH installed Pharrell’s creative consigliere, the Japanese producer and designer Nigo, at the helm of Kenzo in 2021. Pharrell and Nigo’s intertwined careers go back to the early-2000s, when the duo founded the deeply influential streetwear brand Billionaire Boys Club, and Pharrell is now a regular front-row presence at Kenzo shows. He has also recently been sporting custom diamond-encrusted shades he designed with Tiffany & Co., LVMH’s latest luxury brand acquisition.
Installing Pharrell at Louis Vuitton Men’s would be the denouement of the LVMH strategy to turn its luxury brands into global pop cultural movements. Louis Vuitton’s collaboration with Yayoi Kusama has seen cities around the world blanketed in the Japanese designer’s polka dots, and the most recent Louis Vuitton Men’s show featured a Rosalía performance that had little to do with the clothes but everything to do with creating a massive social media moment. That collection featured pieces guest-designed by Colm Dillane of KidSuper, which put Dillane in the pole position to snag the creative director gig. But LVMH is perhaps thinking bigger and employing a turnaround strategy similar to the one employed at Tiffany. LVMH’s re-launch of Tiffany began with a Beyoncé- and Jay-Z-fronted campaign, and has since gone on to include Pharrell himself. When asked by WWD about the custom diamond sunglasses, Pharrell hinted that they were merely the first look at a long-term partnership. “Tiffany and I are engaged,” he told WWD, stating that he and the NYC-based jeweler had “many things” in the works.