This afternoon, heavyweight fashion business publications began to speculate that LVMH was gearing up to announce Pharrell Williams as its next menswear designer. 15 months after the passing of Virgil Abloh, who tragically died from a rare form of heart cancer at the age of 41, the news has now been confirmed by the house, with Pharrell set to make his debut in June later this year.
In the time that has passed since Abloh’s untimely death, fashion pundits have repeated a slew of names back and forth to one another with little consensus, among them Martine Rose, Jonathan Anderson, Grace Wales Bonner, IB Kamara, Maximilian, and Tremaine Emory. The election of Pharrell, however, is not a completely unexpected turn of events. Since founding Billionaire Boys Club in 2013, Pharrell’s creative output has straddled music, architecture, fine art, and beauty, alongside blockbuster collaborations with adidas, Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel, and Moncler. In many ways, his elastic output compounds Abloh’s genre-blending approach to fashion-making.
With the brand bringing in an estimated revenue of €16.7 billion in 2021, Louis Vuitton is at the heart of the LVMH empire and Bernard Arnault, whose own retirement has recently been extended by another five years, is likely to have taken a major role in the selection of candidates. “I am glad to welcome Pharrell back home, after our collaborations in 2004 and 2008 for Louis Vuitton, as our new Men’s Artistic Director,“ Pietro Beccari, Louis Vuitton’s Chairman and CEO said. “His creative vision beyond fashion will undoubtedly lead Louis Vuitton towards a new and very exciting chapter.”
Though fashion fans were eager to single out a replacement, finding an heir with as much cultural prowess as Abloh was not a task to be taken lightly. “It needs to be given the right amount of time. It cannot be done under pressure. This is not a house that relies on one singular individual. Louis Vuitton is too big for any singular individual,” said Louis Vuitton CEO Michael Burke to WWD following Abloh’s swansong in January 2022. “You have to have an appreciation of craft, you have to have an appreciation of materials, you have to have an appreciation of image and graphics, beyond, of course, products. You have to have an appreciation of the client. Virgil was always in the stores.”