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Louis Vuitton stages dramatic runway show in Hong Kong

Louis Vuitton’s creative director for menswear Pharrell Williams signaled the label’s ambitions in Asia on Thursday evening, staging a playful show under the lights of Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour.

The American musician and designer, who in June shut down Paris’ Pont Neuf bridge to showcase his debut collection for the label, continued his high-profile tenure at the brand by unveiling its latest looks against one of the world’s most iconic skylines.

Louis Vuitton’s dramatic runway

The event saw models walking an outdoor runway at the Avenue of Stars — Hong Kong’s answer to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Cantopop singer Anson Lo, Chinese boy band TNT, and South Korean actor Song Joong-ki were among the celebrities in attendance.

The show was themed on travel, everywhere from “Hawaii to Hong Kong,” said Williams. Speaking to CNN just hours before, he described the collection as having “a very hyper-focus on dandy” — expressed through its “sailor side” and “resort side,” he added.

In a nod to what the brand described as the city’s seafaring history, the runway’s maritime theme saw musicians in sailor hats strumming ukuleles and a catwalk covered in sand and digital displays screening lapping waves.

Source: Shutterstock

Models — who included members of Hawaii’s surf communities — swept along the harborfront in striped suits, sailing jackets, fisherman-style sandals, and tropical floral prints, with Williams’ relaxed silhouettes and embellishments giving some outfits the feel of elevated beachwear. Many of the looks were completed with naval accessories, like raffia bucket hats and a Louis Vuitton Keepall 25 bag hand-embroidered with seashells.

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The sky then filled with dozens of drones, taking on forms including the brand’s LVERS logo — a combination of the classic LV monogram with the word lovers, a philosophy at the heart of Williams’ practice, according to the show notes — before he emerged to take a bow.

“It’s a luxury house, but this luxury house was founded on the traveler — the world traveler,” he told CNN. “And here it’s landed us in Hong Kong.”

The French label appointed Williams in February following the death of his predecessor, Virgil Abloh. As well as putting on a spectacular show at Paris Men’s Fashion Week, complete with an orchestra and gospel choir, Williams has already reimagined some of the brand’s classics — such as a version of its Speedy bag in crocodile leather, a design only available to select customers and priced at $1 million (giving the bag its nickname, the “Millionaire Speedy”).

When asked to reflect on the pressures accompanying one of fashion’s top jobs, Williams told CNN, “Oh the pleasure is amazing. You said pressure, I said pleasure. What’s hard about pleasure?”

Source: Getty Images

Thursday’s event marked Louis Vuitton’s first-ever pre-fall menswear show. And while pre-fall collections are not considered as prestigious as labels’ Spring-Summer or Fall-Winter lines, the move nonetheless demonstrated the importance of Hong Kong — and Asia at large — to the French fashion house’s expansion plans.

Louis Vuitton opened its first boutique in Hong Kong in 1979. The city’s residents now spend more on luxury goods, per capita, than anywhere else in the world, according to market research firm Euromonitor. It has also traditionally been a popular destination for the wider region’s luxury shoppers, thanks to the absence of sales tax in the territory.

In a brief statement published Tuesday, the Hong Kong Tourism Board described the Louis Vuitton event as “making fashion history.”

Organized alongside K11 Group, which operates a mall beside the Avenue of Stars and the area’s wider art and design district Victoria Dockside, the runway was also livestreamed around Hong Kong via digital billboards.

The show also marked a continuation of Louis Vuitton’s attempts to court lucrative Asian markets. Although LVMH does not disclose the performance of individual brands, the French conglomerate’s rebound in profits was partly fueled by resumed Chinese spending after China’s post-Covid reopening.

Louis Vuitton’s womenswear division, meanwhile, hosted its first major show in South Korea this past April, when it transformed Seoul’s Jamsugyo Bridge into a striking runway.

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