Pharrell Williams Channels His Inner Cowboy For Louis Vuitton At Paris Fashion Week
By Guy Martin
Sporting one of Nigo’s “Human Made” T-shirts over a pair of elegantly flared, calf-roping jeans and a fine white custom-cut topper modeled on film hero Gene Autry’s classic 1930s Stetson, Pharrell Williams, the unassailable rock-master of fashion, dipped into his bottomless grab-bag of fun and put on a splashy, hilarious show for Louis Vuitton’s Fall/Winter 2024-5 menswear outing as the signature event during Paris Fashion Week. Now rocketing through his first year in the hot seat for Vuitton, Williams knows how to execute a surprise. This January 15 show was a huge one, and it was as fearlessly assured as we know the stylish Williams to be.
Pictured above and below taking his customary runway bow backed up by some of his models, the man stacked his looks drawn from the American West and exuberantly threw them up in air—ranch hands, oil-rig roustabouts in hi-viz wear, fringed Native American coats and even a classic valise in fur-side-out steerhide. Put it this way: It wasn’t the sterile, demure Ralph Lauren take on the American West. This was the West with some rock-hard edges to it.
Backstage after his show, creative director Williams was — as he is known to be — brilliantly frank in analyzing his inspiration for the show, namely, the grand melange of cultures that formed the 19th-century American West, to the largely international press. He said: “When you see cowboys portrayed you see only a few versions. You never really get to see what some of the original cowboys looked like. They looked like us. They looked like me. They were black and they were Native American.”
As usual during Paris’ fashion weeks, the red-carpet looks were honed to the max. Pictured below, front-row denizen Bradley Cooper, who actually does exercise his superb fluency in French when promoting his films in-country, gave the red-carpet paparazzi at the Williams show a masterclass in tailored-yet-extravagant, seventies-era, Yves St. Laurent cool-man-in-the-disco looks, with flared-leg trousers topped by a double-breasted Chesterfield. All in regulation dark navy. Ready for his seventies-man drinks at the George V with Paris’ very own seventies-man unbuttoned white-shirt specialist, Bernard-Henri Levy. Which is not to suggest that the actor had an actual appointment with the French intellectual/writer/late-20th-century style-man. But from the look of Cooper, he could have had.
Across town, and hewing rigorously to the super-generous Seventies flared-leg theme, hunky style-man Bill Kaulitz (of the German band Tokio Hotel) kept the streetside fire burning against the soggy/chilly Paris weather in a pair of nicely patterned bellbottoms with a faux-horror rocker-motif crisscrossed with some robust black rope trim. Make a nice set of stage curtains out of those britches, dude! For the stage of a goth dance club, maybe.
Keeping the whole seventies trope going, Kaulitz—whose twin brother and bandmate Tom is the current Mr. Heidi Klum—topped the trouser with a Superfly-era pimpin’ faux fur. On balance, Kaulitz is bringing Paris a fair imitation of mid-early Jimmy Page, ten years into Led Zeppelin, circa 1978. When everything was good. Although Jimmy Page would arguably also have had a worried “umbrella man” in tow in London in that era, the worried umbrella man Kaulitz has in tow can do nothing about the super-generous hem of his charge’s leggings dragging through the Parisian gutter muck. Worried umbrella-men do not these days come with mantles or coats that they can throw down in the gutters, Sir Walter Raleigh-style, so that their charges may cross the muck unsullied. Does Kaulitz care? No, clearly, not a whit. Such is the definition of rock fabulosity.
By way of explaining this streetside look, notably, the Kaulitz boys were born and grew up in Magdeburg, in the former East Germany, which lies at the root of their musical and style forays. It’s why the choice of making a fine, latter-day fetish of the Seventies makes such sense. Because: In the actual 1970s, not a soul in Magdeburg, or any other town in East Germany save for Berlin, actually experienced the 1970s—theirs was a fairly strict diet of “Free German Youth” communist propaganda, strip-mining for brown (lignite) coal, food shortages and, when you got home with the three rotting onions that the Konsum had left, a knock on the door from your friendly regional Stasi-man dropping by for the routine ideological hounding.
Showing his fashion-forward agility as well as a fearlessness of extra baggage fees to and-or from Orly, at the Louis Gabriel Nouchi show on January 17, Kaulitz exercised his excellent traveling-coat collection with a latter-day iteration of some kind of intergalactic intelligence officer in a grand floor-dragging black number that would have done Keanu Reeves proud back in the dark early days of Matrix-land.