Pharrell headlines Paris Fashion Week

The fashion season hits its stride on Tuesday with menswear week in Paris, with musician-turned-designer Pharrell Williams the headline act in the increasingly celebrity-dominated industry.  

Trends move at lightning speed in the age of TikTok, but brands will be hoping some concepts garner as much attention as “quiet luxury” or “noughties nostalgia” did in 2023. 

Louis Vuitton has bet on raw celebrity wattage to stay on top, becoming the first brand to hit 20 billion euros in revenue last year as it welcomed Pharrell as its new creative director.  

The hip-hop star makes his second outing at Paris Fashion Week on Tuesday following his debut last summer when he took over the entire Pont Neuf bridge, painted it gold, and packed it with A-listers including Jay-Z, who performed after the show. 

Such events, guaranteed to flood social media with brand-building imagery, are in many ways more important than the clothes for the top-end labels. 

This time, his show will be among the fairground rides of the Jardin d’Acclimatation in western Paris, likely featuring the brand’s latest celebrity ambassador, basketballer LeBron James. 

Other brands are racing to keep up, with several big-name designers booted out recently in the cut-throat race for profits. 

Givenchy parted ways with menswear boss Matthew Williams this month — his replacement has yet to be announced. Gucci, Chloe, and Alexander McQueen all saw new creative directors last year. 

There are few major changes in this week’s line-up, though Balmain is returning to menswear shows for the first time in several years.

Some labels have chosen to stay out of the official calendar, notably Saint Laurent, Celine, and Jacquemus — the latter holding its show in Provence on 29 January. 

But 42 brands will be holding runway shows during the menswear week, and another 32 organizing presentations of their new collections. 

The pace is relentless. After menswear comes haute couture week for the most luxurious and bespoke outfits. 

Having already been through Milan, the fashion caravan then decamps for Miami, Copenhagen, New York, London, and then back to Milan and Paris for womenswear shows in February. 

The French capital “remains the stronghold of fashion,” said Vanity Fair fashion expert Pierre Groppo, with the big names such as Chanel, Dior, and Hermes still dominating global trends, as well as the presence of (slightly) more affordable but high-quality labels like AMI and Officine Generale. 

The big brands have managed to go beyond just makers of clothing, he added. Their shows are “transmitters of cultural messages… they are entertainment broadcasters” at the crossroads of fashion, music, and celebrity.