(Paris) A shower of stars for an extraordinary outdoor spectacle: designer Pharrell Williams’ first fashion show for Louis Vuitton, with his dandies, camouflage outfits and checkerboard bags, was held in Paris on Tuesday .

A stone’s throw from the luxury house’s headquarters, on the Pont-Neuf, the show stood out for its spectacular scenography and its gospel choir.

The models, with very different physique, paraded on a huge golden carpet unrolled all along the oldest bridge in Paris, to the notes of an orchestra led by the star pianist Lang Lang.

The choice of gold, although not very present in the outfits, is “a nod to the sun, the central point of the collection”, says Louis Vuitton.

Among the silhouettes presented, a chic military aesthetic emerged, like the close-fitting camouflage suit worn by the designer, his partner and their four children.

The shoes are imposing, the suits closer to the body than in the past, the checkerboard, the brand’s reference motif, is omnipresent, especially on the bags worn by the models and displayed on carts, reminding us that Vuitton is first and foremost a leather workshop.

The highlight of this American-style show: the presence of many stars, including singer and businesswoman Rihanna and singer Beyoncé and her husband, rapper Jay-Z, who gave a concert on site after the parade .

Rarely, Pharrell Williams granted 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 community didn’t have to suffer so much for us to be here,” added the author of global hit Happy, named earlier this year to succeed another African-American designer. , Virgil Abloh, who died suddenly at the end of 2021.

“I needed someone who had something extra, who could touch different arts, music, fashion…”, explained Pietro Beccari, CEO of Louis Vuitton, before the show.

DJ, singer, songwriter, producer who collaborates with both artist Takashi Murakami and Jay-Z, Pharrell Williams, 50, is an “iconic” profile for Vuitton. He has an extremely popular approach to art and style,” says Alexandre Samson, head of the haute couture and contemporary creation departments at the Palais Galliera, the Parisian fashion museum.

This “bold” choice is “consistent with LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault’s idea that Louis Vuitton sells culture and not just handbags,” HSBC said 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 Williams, gold plates on his teeth and the air of an eternal teenager, “has an extraordinary profile, something very cool” who “is inspired by different universes and is not afraid to leave his zone of comfort,” 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.

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

In recent years, fashion shows have become more and more spectacular, like the one at Vuitton in January, ignited by Rosalia’s performance and directed by filmmakers Michel and Olivier Gondry, who almost stole the show. star in clothes.