Pharrell isn’t abandoning his music career for his new gig at Louis Vuitton. On the contrary—he’s bringing it with him.
The newly minted luxury menswear designer cast his good friend and frequent collaborator Rihanna in his first campaign for the French house, which he teased—as a rather conspicuous sneak peek—in the form of a massive billboard on the façade of Musée d’Orsay days before his star-studded runway debut at Paris Fashion Week. Today, Louis Vuitton released the rest of the campaign images, in which Rih (who is currently expecting her second child with partner A$AP Rocky) totes several colorfully monogrammed Speedy bags—which just so happen to be one of the first luxury bags Pharrell ever owned.
The Louis Vuitton Speedy was one of the brand’s most popular designs in the early-to-mid 2000s. As a result, it was also one of the most bootlegged bags on Manhattan’s Canal Street—which helped inspire Pharrell’s debut collection. The area gave the producer-designer an “early education in luxury,” per a Louis Vuitton press release, and served as “a cultural axis invigorated by a diverse energy and hustle mentality.” To mimic the candy-colored designer dupes he used to find on Canal’s sidewalks, Pharrell employed a novel silkscreen monogramming process to induce “a blurry, artisanal and almost hand-painted effect.”
In the campaign images, shot by Japanese photographer Keizō Kitajima and American artist Martine Syms, Rihanna hustles around the city with her Speedys, a modern woman with a to-go coffee in hand and her pregnant belly bared. Per the press release: “Personified by a pregnant Rihanna—a symbol of human empowerment and the quintessential everyday icon—the men’s campaign reflects the re-contextualization at the core of Pharrell Williams’ approach to the Maison.” A new era for Pharrell and Louis Vuitton, certainly, but also for the meaning of luxury at large.