(Paris) “Everyone thinks he’s only good at singing, but I think he’s going to do a very good job at Louis Vuitton”: the excitement was felt around the Pont-Neuf in Paris Tuesday, before Pharrell Williams’ first show-event.

“For once it’s outdoors, you can watch it from afar, even if you can’t see very well,” continues Clara, a 19-year-old student met by AFP in front of a decor of golden seats, a platform for orchestra and large luminous panels.

Others are more reserved: “I don’t have too many expectations, so as not to be disappointed,” says Florane, 23.

This show, on the first day of Paris menswear week, will take place a stone’s throw from the luxury house’s headquarters and promises to be spectacular: around the bridge, traffic has been blocked since the mid-afternoon. noon.

Rarely, Pharrell Williams gave some media time before the show. “There are a lot of people who lost their lives” before black culture found its way into the fashion world, he told AFP.

“We wish our culture and our community didn’t have to suffer so much for us to be here,” added the multifaceted artist, named earlier this year to succeed another black American designer, Virgil Abloh. died suddenly at the end of 2021.

First elements of the men’s collection designed by the author of the global success Happy: a woman, Rihanna, pregnant and carrying multiple colorful bags, is the face. And on Instagram, where he is followed by 15 million subscribers, Pharrell Williams unveiled a leather jacket with a checkerboard pattern on which his name is engraved.

The rest will be shown from 9:30 p.m. in front of an audience of celebrities brought in by boat.

“We’re expecting Yuta from K-pop group NCT,” says Ilhena, 20, “ready to wait for hours more.”

“We can expect a commercial success, it’s one of the most anticipated collections of Fashion Week and it’s really a very significant moment for the history of fashion”, comments for AFP Alexandre Samson, head of the haute couture and contemporary creation departments of the Palais Galliera, the Parisian fashion museum.

DJ, singer, songwriter, producer who collaborates with both artist Takashi Murakami and rapper Jay-Z, this is an “iconic” profile for Vuitton. He has an extremely popular approach to art and style. It’s a mark of style, of the times, and Pharrell Williams would embody it well, “adds Alexandre Samson.

This “bold” choice of the artistic director is “consistent with the idea of ​​the CEO of LVMH, Bernard Arnault, according to which Louis Vuitton sells culture and not only handbags”, estimates HSBC Bank in an analyst note .

Even if men’s fashion represents only 5% of the house’s sales, which exceeded 21 billion euros in the 1st quarter, “a halo effect could resonate” on other activities, according to the same source.

Pharrell, 50, with gold plates on his teeth and the look of an eternal teenager, “has an extraordinary profile, something very cool” who “is inspired by different worlds and is not afraid to step out of his comfort zone,” Pierre-Alexandre M’Pelé, editorial director of GQ France, told AFP.

“He’s always been ahead of fashion trends, in terms of music too, and respected for that […] It would be interesting to see how he will use his flair for innovative artistic projects,” he adds, s’ waiting for “an association between him and a universe that would not be that of Vuitton”.

One of Pharrell Williams’ first most important collaborations dates back to 2004, when he designed sunglasses for… Vuitton. He has also collaborated with Chanel, Moncler and Tiffany.

“He is a kind of chameleon, a muse with other qualities that were required of the artistic director before. These new characters carry a brand and not a profession,” emphasizes Pascaline Wilhelm, fashion and textile consultant.

“At Louis Vuitton, failure is not an option. So I work day and night to show that I am up to this mission, “said the designer in Le Figaro on Tuesday morning.

He has to support him the workshops that produced the men’s collections alone after the death of Virgil Abloh, who became a star among millennials for having skilfully married luxury and streetwear.

Fashion shows have become more and more spectacular, like the one at Vuitton in January, fired up by Rosalia’s performance and directed by filmmakers Michel and Olivier Gondry, who almost stole the show from the clothes.