Louıs Vuıtton presented Creatıve Dırector Pharrell Wıllıams’ Men’s Pre-Fall 2024 Collection in Hong Kong

A swarm of illuminated drones hovered high above Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour at Pharrell Williams’s first Louis Vuitton menswear pre-fall show, etching momentary patterns in the sky. First they synchronized to illustrate a rising blue wave pushing a riderless white surfboard; as the wave broke the surfboard transformed into a traditional junk boat of the kind that has plied these waters for centuries. Maritime theme established, the drones scattered to reform in the designer’s LV Lovers motif.

Anson Lo, Sho Hirano, Dylan Wang, Stray Kids’s Felix and Rauw Alejandro, 600 VICs, and around 200 Hong Kong fashion students (watching on a nearby big screen) were invited to see a collection that contained many complex currents of its own. Theme-wise, the main dialogue ran the characters of dandy-sailor (at the beginning) and earthier surfer (towards the end). Among the many super-enjoyable elements at the wavier end were intensely mustered Hawaiian-style prints on Aloha shirts and short sets, jacquard suiting featuring LV icons, and a whole arsenal of accessories including a ukulele strap. A suede short and shirt set in red was garlanded with wire-edged flowers you could arrange according to your mood. There were beaded shorties, wetsuits and ponchos in neoprene, friendship bracelets and necklaces, rattan hats, and fisherman’s sandals—and a surfboard too.

Around and also sometimes within this fun frothing churn of luxury surfology Williams’s LV lexicon began to take shape. Pearls as milky as moonlight tipped denim rivets, topped buttons, etched pinstripe on seersucker, and were the precious pixels that traced the florals, waves, and fish on a closing baseball jacket. The LV initials resembled the grid of a fishing net in the silky jacquard of the first suit and the chambray separates that appeared later. The collarless not-quite rattan coat in the same milky tone as its pearl buttons, the high-waisted double breasted jackets and breaky pants, the wide shorts (most prominently in a tufted denim), and the baseball jackets all pointed to a core wardrobe that combined broad wearability and high materiality. Neptune, god of the ocean, was inserted into one of those Aloha prints as a join-the-dots easter egg for Pharrell-philes.

Accessories provide the tide that propels Louis Vuitton, and they were given due prominence this evening. Tweaked versions of the Speedy and a new chest bag were amongst the models printed in bicolor checkerboard versions of the damier design, taken from the archive’s original design and retaining its first hand-brushed identifier. Those LV Aloha prints landed here too, as did some beautifully woven raffia pieces and a new scuba-effect version of the damier checkerboard. The shoes that kicked sand on the runway included a sleek-looking new model named Cobra, 3D-printed in TPU, that was patterned with a fine mesh finish and aerodynamically set air vents.

At the end of it all, those drones made for such irresistible content that some in the 1,200-strong crowd shifted from their spots, apparently to gain an improved shooting position. This current then swirled against the finale’s massed wave of models. At its peak was Williams, in a jaunty sailor’s hat and a pearl-buttoned double breasted white suit with authentically bell bottomed pants. Encountering this human turbulence, Louis Vuitton’s menswear captain didn’t falter, but hand-shook and high-fived his way onwards down towards the end of his palm-fringed waterside runway. He had steered his sophomore show smoothly into the magnificent port of Hong Kong.