Pharrell ushers in a new era at Louis Vuitton with SS24
THIS WAS no ordinary debut show. Louis Vuitton‘s highly anticipated spring-summer 2024 menswear collection marked not only the beginning for the newly appointed Pharrell Williams as its creative director but also a new chapter for the brand post-Virgil Abloh.
The bets were on for the creative – could Pharrell translate his sonically vivid idiosyncrasies into fashion?
Positioning this moment across from the Louis Vuitton studios on Paris’ famous Pont Neuf, the dialogue between the American and the French fashion House began metaphorically. He wanted to the audience to see the classical part of the capital whilst being present in the area that he designs, beckoning the past to come into his future.
This acknowledgement of the duality of heritage is the continuation of what Abloh had begun during his tenure and stretched further by looking into the stylisation of American stereotypes within clothes. Take for example varsity jackets, they are crafted in ateliers and are therefore re-contextualised, as sportswear enters the world of couture with Monograms and pearl embellishments.
It’s this like-minded “you can do it too” nature that echoed throughout the SS24 showcase, as Pharrell introduced a new emblem – LVERS – a new culture that is described as ‘a state of mind founded in warmth, wellbeing, and welcome-ness’.
It’s clear the morals are the same between him and his predecessor, as the show notes emphasise the intent of ensuring fashion strays away from exclusivity and remains inclusive, this slogan nods to Williams’ home state (‘Virginia is for lovers’) and mimics the Marque L. Vuitton Déposée logo.
Beyond the themes, Damoflage was showcased for the first time. A spliced combination of the heritage Damier pattern mixed with camouflage becomes the first new signifier of Williams’ design language, seeing itself already in three colour iterations across workwear, denim, knitwear and accessories, and even within the jacquard of the tailoring.
Walking hand-in-hand with this, is the new adaption of the classic chessboard graphic, finding itself reimagined by pixel artist ET and named the 8-bit Atari Damier.
Looking through the noise of all the extras Williams’ has employed for SS24, the actual silhouettes of the collection were far more tailored in fit than previous years whilst still remaining contemporary, and more American in stance than European.
Noticeable design tweaks were seen as collars were removed, box-pleat shorts were added to the waistlines of suits and blazers were cropped, and accessories, of course, played a vital role in his expression.
Bags arrived down the runway in dozens, all in new versions adorning the new prints, but most notably the famous Speedy re-enters the fashion sphere bringing with it the hustler mentality of Canal Street in New York to the streets of Paris.
Though the star-studded front row may have caused enough viral moments to penetrate into everyone’s feeds, and the after-party was closer to a concert than an intimate cocktail bar, the conclusion of Pharrell’s Louis Vuitton is that it’s a heightened version of Abloh’s legacy.
Maybe some expected a far greater shift into a new era, but like the final line of the show notes read, ‘This moment is dedicated to the giant before me. To our brother in spirit’. It’s too simplistic to say that Pharrell had big shoes to fill when what happened before was the beginning of a cultural shift within legacy brands, and it is too simplistic to say a lot hasn’t changed with SS24.
Ultimately, this appointment was never about reinventing Louis Vuitton again, it was about keeping the brand at the epicentre of modern fashion and its done just that.