PHARRELL WILLIAMS HIS FIRST CAMPAIGN FOR LOUIS VUITTON WITH RIHANNA
In his first campaign for Louis Vuitton, Pharrell Williams ignites his vision for the Maison with the new Speedy: an adaptation of the emblematic Speedy bag contextualised in imagery featuring Rihanna photographed by Keizō Kitajima and Martine Syms. The proposal – released days after his debut show – expands on the foundation for the Men’s Creative Director’s practice at Louis Vuitton. It represents the union of two everyday icons: a luxury bag founded in codes of reality, embodied by an artist of universal human appeal. The campaign was styled by Cynthia Lu and Matthew Henson, both long-time collaborators of Pharrell Williams. In the lead-up to the show, a campaign teaser graced the façade of Musée d’Orsay.
The new Speedy is informed by the cosmopolitan nucleus that inspired Pharrell Williams’ early education in luxury: Canal Street on Lower Manhattan, New York City; a cultural axis invigorated by a diverse energy and hustle mentality echoed in corresponding streets around the metropoles of the world. Evolved from the classic Speedy – one of the first bags Pharrell Williams owned – the new Speedy conjures through the inimitable savoir-faire of the Maison a visual language evocative of the codes and stylistic attitude of Canal Street. It is an everyday icon conceived for every walk of life.
The campaign serves as an offset to the creative direction of Pharrell Williams at the Louis Vuitton Studio Prêt-à-Porter Homme. Released in tandem with the Spring-Summer 2024 Men’s Show, it employs thought-provoking imagery not simply as an illustration of the collection but as part of the proposal itself. The image is an artefact created to alter perceptions, challenge history, and evolve an existing legacy. Personified by a pregnant Rihanna – a symbol of human empowerment and the quintessential everyday icon – the men’s campaign reflects the re-contextualisation at the core of Pharrell Williams’ approach to the Maison.
Imbued with real-life sensibilities, the new Speedy honours the trapezoid lines of the classic Speedy but appears in supple grained calf leather lined in the finest lambskin. The softened construction enables the bottom of the bag to collapse and drape the way it would through everyday wear and gestures. The silkscreen-printed Monogram induces a blurry, artisanal and almost hand-painted effect, rendered in several colours across nine dimensions.
The new Speedy builds on a design founded in wearability and adaptability. Created by Gaston-Louis Vuitton in 1930, the classic Speedy leather travel bag – originally known as the Express – was borne out of the era’s infatuation with speed and cars. In 1959, it re-launched in Monogram canvas heightening its city appeal and drawing attention from the likes of Audrey Hepburn, who, in 1965, requested a smaller version of the Speedy to fit her petite frame. The design catapulted it into icon status. For nearly a century, the Speedy has been the subject of numerous artistic interpretations and remains an emblem of Louis Vuitton.