This year we have seen a ground-breaking rise in African-American successes across various sectors, ranging from philanthropy, to athletics and the music industry. Tyler Perry made a donation of $2.5 million in aid of the oldest owners of the city of Atlanta, Rihanna delivered an historic performance at the Super Bowl halftime show and Beyoncé Knowles Carter achieved a record number of 32 Grammy wins. All these milestones were particularly important for American Black History Month. Amidst the momentum and spotlight that was shone onto the African-American community, especially this month of February, it is particularly interesting to consider the inclusion of music producer Pharrell Williams, appointed as Louis Vuitton’s new artistic director for men collection. It has been raising the question whether or not this was only part of an advertising campaign by the Luxury brand. Whatever it is, what seems certain is that African-American talent is having its moment, highlighting extraordinary talent within the African-American community as well as widespread visibility for key issues intimately related to the black identity.
Pharrell's incredible success in music was surely an impetus in his appointment to the new position. He made a powerful debut as a producer, artist, and singer and his fame quickly spread with his collaboration with Daft Punk on the song "Get Lucky". Not only that, but Pharrell has also achieved 13 Grammy awards thanks to Neptunes, N.E.R.D., and other successful worldwide projects. As such, and despite the big shoes that had to be filled following Virgil Abloh’s passing, it is no wonder that many people of the community welcomed the appointment enthusiastically - he undoubtedly adds valuable insight from the perspective of luxury, art, and especially music.
Pharrell Williams is no stranger to the world of fashion and luxury. With a knack for making waves on the front lines of fashion shows, Williams undoubtedly has an eye for the finer things in life. His work with French designers Domeau & Pérès proves he knows how to combine art and design effectively. Not one to shy away from a collaboration, Williams has worked with some of the most reputable names in fashion including Louis Vuitton, Moncler, Uniqlo, Adidas, and Chanel—to name just a few. In 2005, he even joined forces with Japanese streetwear designer Nigo to launch Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream clothing lines. Compact yet mighty, it’s clear that Pharrell Williams packs a punch when it comes to the world of style and design.
The times we live in have certainly presented us with some strange circumstances, but the buzz taking the place of professionalism may not be one of them. Each year since 1985, the Festival of Fashion and Photography in Hyeres has provided an opportunity for young graduates to prove themselves by displaying their new designs. While these budding talents can show off their work, they find recognition with big names like Anthony Vaccarello at Saint Laurent or Julien Dossena for Paco Rabanne, Viktor and Rolf, Gaspard Yurkievich, and Felipe Oliveira Baptista. Even more impressive, these fresh faces usually gain support from major houses such as Chanel, LVMH, Richemont, and Kering. We may currently be living in strange times but this professional outlet appears to have staying power!
The appointment of Louis Vuitton's initial Artistic Director reflects a trending movement towards recognizing the power of representation in branding to engage and inspire consumers. This shift serves as evidence that senior managers and creative directors have an important responsibility to lead with creative vision and image. Clearly, strategic influencers can offer a massive competitive advantage with the right access to highly engaged communities. A star personality who appeals to a vast global market results in increased visibility and greater exposure, giving brands a foothold in accelerating their share in an international luxury trade war. All the while, professionals who research, develop and produce products continue to be necessary components of a successful campaign and remain true sources of respect within the industry. Ultimately, these appointments indicate legitimization of influential celebrities as new primary curators for major fashion houses—an exciting step forward into what will be a fascinatingly connected world ?
The old adage that actions speak louder than words is still very relevant in today's world, particularly when it comes to management ethics. Too often, people are encouraged to say the right thing while doing the wrong one in order to secure a certain outcome or gain an advantage. This type of behavior can be extremely detrimental, especially when it comes to marginalized individuals who have been traditionally excluded from decision-making positions in various industries. That said, if we want true inclusion and diversity in all areas of society, there must be a conscious effort to ensure that voices from minority groups are taken seriously, and then granted equal opportunity to contribute as decision-makers and stakeholders. The only way this can happen is through meaningful action coupled with positive words and intentions, while reclaiming its rightful place under the sun.