French Fashion And Music Biz Meld With Recent Creative Collaborations

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Fashion and music have been longtime bedfellows. In the last decade or so, this has been especially true of rap and hip hop, whose artists such as Rihanna, Pharrell Williams, Travis Scott, A$AP Rocky, Lil Nas, and the controversial Kanye West who had joined forces to bring their urban cool aesthetic to chic luxury brands. Two major French luxury houses, Lanvin and Louis Vuitton, have taken the mash-up further by appointing musical artists to top design spots signaling these musicians will do more than influence the next collections but design it too.

The most recent news was Lanvin’s announcement with the rapper Future to lead its new creative exercise, the Lab Collection. It comes at an interesting moment for the Shanghai-based conglomerate Lanvin Group (brands in the stable include Lanvin, St. John, Sergio Rossi, Woolford, and Caruso), which went public in December 2022. The creative director Bruno Sialelli who took the role in 2019, exited the brand in April of this year. Thus far, a successor hasn’t been named.

According to a company statement, the Lanvin Lab was born out of its founder, Jeanne Lanvin’s love of the arts. As a cultural arbiter of her time, she surrounded herself with writers, musicians, theater directors, and architects, creating a hub for these creative types. Thus, today’s Lanvin Lab aims to do the same as a complement to its seasonal collections, which are currently being designed by an in-house team.

The first theme of the reborn concept will be music focus, an homage to Marguerite, Jeanne Lanvin’s daughter, an accomplished musician and house muse.

According to a release, Grammy-winning artist Future was chosen as “a visionary whose artistic influence extends way beyond music and entertainment and resonates throughout broad swathes of contemporary culture today.” The capsule collection is slated for an Autumn 2023 release and will include ready-to-wear and accessories for both women and men.

Lanvin’s announcement came on the heels of the highly anticipated debut of Pharrell Williams’s first Louis Vuitton men’s collection, which occurred earlier in the week in Paris. The show’s entertainment factor did not disappoint, with his musician colleagues and friends such as Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Rihanna, A$AP Rocky, Megan Thee Stallion, Maluma, J Balvin, A$AP Ferg, and Busta Rhymes, among others showing up to both support and be entertained by Williams fashion debut.

The spectacle, which took place on the Pont Neuf bridge near Vuitton headquarters, was painted in shades of gold in the houses’ famous Damier check print. The 70-plus look show was set to a live music soundtrack thanks to a 40-piece orchestra with the pianist Lang Lang. The 70-strong Voices of Fire gospel choir led by Pharrell’s uncle Bishop Ezekiel Williams joined for the finale. At the post-show party, Jay Z and Williams entertained guests at the foot of the LVMH-owned Le Cheval Blanc, proving you get more bang for the design buck with a multi-hyphenate in charge.

Some critics were less than impressed with the collection that, while destined to be a commercial hit, lacked a deep or nuanced level of creativity. Williams went on to cause a splash in The City of Lights when he appeared at other shows later in the week, such as Dior Homme and Kenzo. This week, Williams unveiled an ad campaign starring Rihanna for his debut collection Spring Summer 2024 to further the connection.

While aforementioned contemporaries have all partnered up with fashion—Rihanna’s Fenty line, Williams Billionaire Boys Club, Travis Scott Dior Homme, A$AP Rocky Calvin Klein; Ciara and hubby Russell Wilson’s House of L, R & C to wit—putting musicians in the top design spot does beg the question as where that leave traditionally trained creatives. To those who follow today’s luxury climate, hype often appears to follow design, not vice versa.

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