Musician, producer and fashion designer Pharrell Williams was surprisingly named Tuesday to succeed Virgil Abloh, who died suddenly in November 2021, as the new creative director of Vuitton men.
"Louis Vuitton is pleased to announce Pharrell Williams as creative director for men with immediate effect," the brand announced in a statement.
His first collection will be unveiled in June during the upcoming men's ready-to-wear week in Paris.
His name had not been mentioned among the potential successors, but the appointment of the 49-year-old superstar is in line with the legacy of Virgil Abloh, a jack-of-all-trades artist who became a star among millennials for having skillfully married luxury and streetwear.
An approach shared by Pharrell Williams who, like the designer who died of cancer at 41, has a passion for skateboarding, the art world and music.
"Pharrell Williams is a visionary whose creative worlds span from music to art to fashion - establishing himself as a universal cultural icon over the past 20 years. His ability to break down the boundaries between the different worlds he explores fits naturally with Louis Vuitton's cultural dimension, reinforcing its values of innovation, pioneering spirit and entrepreneurship," the company said.
"I am happy to see Pharrell back at the house, after our collaborations in 2004 and 2008," said Pietro Beccari, CEO of Louis Vuitton quoted in the statement, referring to glasses or jewelry designed by Pharrell Williams for the French luxury house.
"His creative vision beyond fashion will undoubtedly lead Louis Vuitton into a new and exciting chapter," he stressed.
Louis Vuitton's sales have skyrocketed since the pandemic, with the company now worth more than $20 billion - helping to make the owner of its parent company LVMH, Bernard Arnault, the richest person in the world.
A regular in the front rows of runway shows, Pharrell Williams is the creator of global hits ("Happy" and "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk).
With 10 billion global music streams combined to date, he has received 13 Grammy Awards, including in 2004, 2014 and 2019 as producer of the year. He has received two Oscar nominations, for the original song "Happy" from the film Despicable Me 2 and for Hidden Figures, nominated for Best Picture, as co-producer.
Born in Virginia Beach, on the East Coast of the United States, Pharrell Williams, who has more than 14 million followers on Instagram, has also made other fashion collaborations, including with Moncler and Adidas for Superstar and Stan Smith sneakers.
He also co-founded Billionaire Boys Club in 2003, a streetwear brand popular with young people with Japanese Nigo, who was recently appointed artistic director of Kenzo, which also belongs to LVMH.
Pharrell Williams is also known for his anti-discrimination projects such as Yellow, an NGO that seeks to give equal opportunities to all young people through education.
In 2020, he launched Black Ambition, an initiative offering a bridge to success for underprivileged entrepreneurs launching startups in technology, health and consumer services.
After Virgil Abloh's death, the studios were in charge of Vuitton's men's collections.
The last Vuitton show, in January, featured a performance by pop superstar Rosalia, who almost stole the show for the collection. Filmmakers Michel and Olivier Gondry, designer Ibrahim Kamara,