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Pharrell, pop mastermind heading menswear design for Louis Vuitton

By AFP - Feb 15,2023 - Last updated at Feb 15,2023

NEW YORK — Pharrell Williams is the superstar behind scores of music’s earworms, whose agelessness, sharp taste and forays into design have also made him a fixture on the fashion circuit for decades.

The pop culture renaissance man will now head menswear design for Louis Vuitton, stepping into the shoes of Virgil Abloh and becoming, after his predecessor, the second Black man to take on the role.

The trailblazing Abloh died of cancer in November 2021, and his spot at the European luxury house has remained vacant since.

Williams, 49, was not among those most rumoured as the successor, but his streetwise sensibility meshes well with the brand’s recent push to attract younger audiences.

Louis Vuitton head Pietro Beccari praised Pharrell’s “creative vision beyond fashion”, saying it would lead the label “towards a new and very exciting chapter”.

In addition to teaming with brands including Adidas, Diesel, Chanel and Moncler, the prolific songwriter, producer and performer already partnered with Louis Vuitton, including in 2008 on a jewellery and sunglasses line.

He and his longtime partner, the fashion designer Helen Lasichanh, wed in 2013.

In 2016 Williams was named co-owner of jeans brand G-Star Raw, and also co-founded the Japanese clothing maker Billionaire Boys Club.

He was also a fan of Abloh’s: “Virgil you were a kind, generous, thoughtful creative genius your work as a human and your work as a spiritual being will live forever,” he wrote upon the designer’s death.

Music mogul

 

Born April 5, 1973 in the coastal US city of Virginia Beach, Williams and his childhood band camp friend Chad Hugo rose to fame beginning in the 1990s as the duo The Neptunes, after they were discovered by New Jack Swing architect Teddy Riley.

The polymaths shifted the sound of pop entirely, producing hit after hit, including Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” and Britney Spears’ “I’m a Slave 4 U”.

Their shortlist of collaborations includes Gwen Stefani, Kelis, Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, Madonna and Snoop Dogg. Williams also worked with major acts including Maroon 5 and Shakira — and of course Daft Punk, including the songs “Get Lucky” and “Lose Yourself to Dance”.

Williams also is a star performer in his own right, including with the globally viral hit “Happy”, as well as “Blurred Lines” which he performed with Robin Thicke and T.I.

The Oscar nominee with 13 Grammy wins last year was inducted into the prestigious Songwriters Hall of Fame as part of The Neptunes.

That night, wearing a showstopping cherry red leather suit, the ever-luminous artist — whose porcelain, seemingly ageless skin has spawned myriad beauty articles as well as a skincare line — delivered a lengthy ode to songwriting.

“When that sparkle hits you feel it in your bone, you feel it in your body,” he said. “You feel this sense of direction.”

That urgent creative spirit is sure to be a boon at Louis Vuitton: Pharrell’s first collection is due to hit the runways next June during Men’s Fashion Week, the label said.

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