By Mimosa Spencer and Lisa Richwine
PARIS (Reuters) -LVMH’s top label Louis Vuitton said on Tuesday it has hired Pharrell Williams to head artistic direction of its menswear designs, tapping a popular figure from the music industry to fill the high-profile position left vacant since the death of star designer Virgil Abloh over a year ago.
“Louis Vuitton is delighted to welcome @Pharrell as its new Men’s Creative Director”, Louis Vuitton said in a tweet, confirming earlier reports from the Wall Street Journal and the French daily Le Figaro.
Williams’ first collection for the label will be shown in June during Men’s Fashion Week in Paris, the brand added.
Williams rose to fame in the music business as a producer and singer with hits including “Happy” and “Blurred Lines.” He has won 13 Grammy awards and was a judge on the popular singing competition show “The Voice.”
“Happy,” written for the animated movie “Despicable Me 2,” earned Williams one of his two Oscar nominations. His second Academy Award nod came as a producer of best picture nominee “Hidden Figures.”
Williams also has extensive experience in the fashion industry. He played a role in the rise of streetwear, co-founding the label Billionaire Boys Club with Japanese designer Nigo in 2003, and launching collaborations with Adidas as well as luxury brands Moncler and Chanel. In 2004, he collaborated with Louis Vuitton designer Marc Jacobs, designing eyewear for the label.
Last year, Williams created buzz when he turned up for Nigo’s debut fashion show in Paris for LVMH-owned label Kenzo wearing diamond-studded glasses made by Tiffany – another design project with a brand belonging to LVMH.
The appointment marks the first move by Louis Vuitton’s newly appointed CEO, Pietro Beccari.
“Williams is a significant hire, needed to fill the big boots left by Virgil Abloh,” said analysts at Credit Suisse, noting that the “major move” by the new CEO suggests the brand’s links with pop culture and music will continue.
Abloh, who died in November 2021, was fashion’s highest-profile Black designer and symbolized the fusion of streetwear with high-end fashion, mixing influences like graffiti art and skateboard culture into his styles.
The label’s design studios have since drawn on Abloh’s designs, bringing in performers ranging from Florida’s Marching 100 band and rapper Kendrick Lamar to Spanish singer Rosalia to energize catwalk shows.
(Reporting by Mimosa Spencer in Paris and Lisa Richwine in Los AngelesWriting by Tassilo HummelEditing by Leslie Adler and Matthew Lewis)