In a paper box, placed on each guest seat, on the gold-painted Pont-Neuf in Paris, was a paper featuring the expressions and embodiments of the debut collection of Pharrell Williams for Louis Vuitton. At the bottom of the page, in fine print, read, “This moment is dedicated to the giant before me. To our brother in spirit.” If Williams honored his predecessor, the late Virgil Abloh, the show was a new departure; his debut a powerful symphony of celebrity, music, and fashion that had Parisians climbing to their rooftops to witness the Spring-Summer 2024 collection also seen by Beyoncé, Rihanna, Zendaya, Kim Kardashian, Maluma, Offset, LeBron James, Lewis Hamilton, Jaden and Willow Smith, and more.
The sun, with its promise of a new day, was the focal point for the “set,” and saw the bridge gleaming with a damier print. The bridge embodied a metaphorical one between Paris, the home of Louis Vuitton, and Virginia, USA where the designer was born fifty years ago to a teacher mother and handyman father. References to Princess Anne, his former high school were featured in LV varsity jackets in a show that embodied the warmth of a global community connected by an appreciation for the core values of the maison.
The jackets were one of many personal touches that Williams poured into his first collection. The dandy silhouette was a nod to his own dressing approach, with tailored suiting encrusted with pearls and crystals. The contemporary longing for comfort also appeared in shearling slippers in Monogram intarsia—the outsole embossed with a bear’s footprint—for those unafraid to leave an impression. Williams, who is often spotted wearing jewel-embellished lenses, featured sunglasses on the runway. These had caps crafted in the image of camera lenses for its wearer to see the world in primary colors.
Camo and outerwear with gentle military references featured throughout the collection. At one point, an army-like truck rolled down the runway, driven by a blond-haired model; a reference to Ukraine seemed obvious, with the word “Liberty” featured on the back of the truck. It rolled down again at the end of the show, this time carrying a mammoth LV monogram trunk in copper, a healing element known to transform in the sun.
Considering Louis Vuitton’s new men’s designer is a musical legend, guests at the show and tuning in to the livestream from around the world were keen to see what soundtrack he would produce. Guests arrived to bridge to the hum of nostalgic French music. The show then opened to the strains of an orchestra tuning—and indeed there was one at the end of the bridge, including world famous pianist Lang Lang sitting at a black baby grand ready to play the original composition Peace Be Still by Pharrell Williams with gladiator-like force. It then transitioned to Chains & Whips by Clipse while Williams’ friends Pusha T and No Malice walked the runway in statement coats. Also walking the runway were former Yves Saint Laurent designer Stefano Pilati and model Liya Kebede, one of the few women featured. The finale, Joy by Voices of Fire featuring Pharrell Williams saw a choir from his hometown storm the runway in a celebratory performance. Another show would follow the fashion show, with Jay-Z taking the stage to sing several hits and even a couple with Williams himself. “Remember where you at tonight,” said Jay-Z. “Everyone here tonight is blessed.”