Pharrell Williams Is Louis Vuitton’s New Men’s Creative Director

Pharrell Williams on the cover of W, October 2017
W October 2017. Photographs by Mario Sorrenti, styled by George Cortina.

Louis Vuitton wasted no time in confirming the rumors. Hours after it was reported that Pharrell Williams was in talks to become the new creative director of LV’s men’s line, the French label made it official on Instagram. “His creative vision beyond fashion will undoubtedly lead Louis Vuitton towards a new and very exciting chapter,” said Pietro Beccari, Louis Vuitton’s chairman and CEO, in a statement. The 49-year-old’s first collection will be presented in Paris in June. (Nicolas Ghesquière continues to serve as the house’s women’s creative director, a post he’s held since 2013).

The announcement officially ends nearly a year’s worth of speculation about who would replace the late Virgil Abloh after the designer passed in November 2021. Speculation had previously circled on boundary-breaking American designer Telfar Clemens, British menswear iconoclast Martine Rose, award winner Grace Wales Bonner and, after his recent collaboration with the brand, KidSuper’s Colm Dillane. Just about no one had mentioned Williams as a possibility (publicly, anyway) until this morning. Perhaps because, well, Williams is better known for his music career. Alongside production partner Chad Hugo, Williams helped define the sound of ’00s pop and rap, producing everything from The Clipse’s hip-hop classic “Grindin’” to Gwen Stefani’s pop earworm “Hollaback Girl.” More recently, Williams served as a judge on The Voice and contributed the hit “Happy” to the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack.

But his fashion influence is undeniable—and this isn’t his first go-round in the style sphere. Back in 2003, he co-founded Billionaire Boys Club (with subbrands that include Ice Cream footwear and Billionaire Girls Club) with A Bathing Ape founder Nigo (who is now the creative director of Kenzo, another label owned by Vuitton’s parent company, LVMH). And while in recent years he’s served comfortably as an ambassador for Chanel, he collaborated with Vuitton twice before in 2006 and 2008. Williams had also previously collaborated with Moncler, Adidas, G-Star Raw, and Uniqlo. He’s also expanded into skincare with his brand Humanrace and hospitality with the South Beach hotel Goodtime.

“Pharrell Williams is a visionary whose creative universes expand from music to art, and to fashion—establishing himself as a cultural global icon over the past twenty years,” read a statement from LV. “The way in which he breaks boundaries across the various worlds he explores aligns with Louis Vuitton’s status as a cultural maison, reinforcing its values of innovation, pioneer spirit, and entrepreneurship.”

Undoubtedly, Williams has helped cement the blueprint for the modern-renaissance celebrity: his charisma and talent has rendered him a publicly known A-lister, but his behind-the-scenes craft across mediums bolsters his artistic credibility. Still, it’s quite rare (though not completely unprecedented) for someone who has achieved so much fame in another realm to be given the keys to a historic fashion house.

The announcement comes on the heels of another major shakeup at Vuitton. Beccari, who previously held the same post at Dior, only took over Louis Vuitton last month, succeeding longtime former CEO Michael Burke.