Even after lauded debut, Pharrell says ‘Louis Vuitton Don’ title still belongs to Ye

Pharrell Williams walks on a stage wearing a digitalized camouflage motif suit, a cap and rhinestone-studded sunglasses

Pharrell Williams made his debut as creative director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear with a star-studded fashion show in Paris on Tuesday.
(Aurelien Meunier / Getty Images)
Share via

Though Pharrell Williams made a splash debut as the men’s creative director of Louis Vuitton this week, he said the “Louis Vuitton Don” nickname still belongs to someone else.

In a video after the show with music producer Swizz Beatz, Williams humbly relinquished the honorific to his friend Kanye “Ye” West.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is my brother, Pharrell,” Swizz Beatz, who was joined by Williams on Tuesday following his debut runway show, said. “The Don. The Louis Vuitton Don.”


“Nah nah nah nah,” Williams interrupted. “I’m a student. ‘Louis Vuitton Don’ is the one, great Kanye West. Period. That’s the Louis Vuitton Don. I’m the pupil king, I’m forever the student.”

“Kon the Louis Vuitton Don” was the name of Ye’s third mixtape, and he continued to use the moniker in a number of his lyrics. Like on the song “Better Than Yours” from the mixtape where Pharrell has a production credit, Ye raps, “I’m Kon, the Louis Vuitton Don / Bought my mom a purse, now she Louis Vuitton Mom.”

Ye has a longstanding relationship with the French Maison. He went from rocking LV scarves to collaborating with the brand on a shoe called “The Don” in 2009. In a 2019 interview with Charlamagne Tha God, Ye said he had a deal with LVMH for a line of apparel that eventually fell through.

“I met with [LMVH chief executive] Bernard Arnault. We had a deal on the table that we shook on. I did some performances at the museum ... Then, three months later, the deal got dropped at the board,” he said.

Ye had even rumored to succeed visionary designer and entrepreneur Virgil Abloh as the brand’s menswear creative director after Abloh died from cancer in 2021.

Ye and Abloh were close friends and collaborators, and in an interview with Clique TV in 2022, Ye admitted to feeling “pain and jealousy” when Abloh was appointed to the position in 2018.


While Ye wasn’t in attendance at the show, the stars were out in Paris on Tuesday for Williams’ runway debut.

Celebrities across music, fashion, art and sports gathered at the Pont Neuf bridge as Williams presented his highly anticipated first collection for the legacy French luxury house during Paris Fashion Week. Though the musician and entrepreneur’s position as the inheritor of the position was hotly debated, Williams’ celebrity friends cheered him on from the front row.

“I pinch myself every day,” Williams told the New York Times. “[The Louis Vuitton corporate office in Paris] is the equivalent of a castle to me. I mean, the Seine River right there — it’s like the moat.”

Celebrities including model Naomi Campbell, rocker-actor Lenny Kravitz, beauty mogul Kim Kardashian and actor Jared Leto received a Damier print envelope containing an exclusive invite with goodies from the collection.

Williams wore a “digitalized ‘damoflage’ motif suit, paying tribute to Paris with the reinvigorated emblem of the Maison,” the house said in an Instagram post. The motif is featured heavily throughout the collection and some stars — like Kardashian — wore it to the show.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Williams called his appointment a tribute to Abloh.


“When you’re chosen, you just kind of ride the wave,” he said.

Zendaya, who was named an ambassador for the house in April, was in the front row with her former stylist, Law Roach, seated next to power couple Jay-Z and Beyonce,, the latter of whom is in the midst of the European leg of her Renaissance World Tour. They sat next to LVMH CEO Arnault. Coming off the trailer release this week for her upcoming steamy movie “Challengers,” Zendaya wore a two-piece pantsuit with a plunging neckline.

A pregnant Rihanna — who stars in the Spring/Summer 24 collection’s campaign — and her boyfriend ASAP Rocky donned matching looks for the show. The founder of Fenty Beauty, which is owned by LVMH, founder rocked a denim cargo set from the collection with a pixelated Damier print. And the “Praise the Lord” rapper wore a denim jacket, cargo shorts and a checkered beanie with sequin squares. He paired the look with big fluffy green LV slippers from the collection.

Rappers Pusha T and A$AP Ferg modeled in the show , along with former YSL creative director Stefano Pilati, as a gospel choir sang “Joy (Unspeakable)” at the end of the show.

Megan Thee Stallion turned up in a distressed dark denim suit, bold blue lip and small Louis Vuitton purse. And Lewis Hamilton, known as Formula 1‘s most stylish driver, also sat in the front row nestled between Jaden and Willow Smith and multihyphenate fashion icon Tyler, the Creator.

“i love u so much bro i shed real tears i couldn’t even take photos,” the Golf Le Fleur founder said about his mentor Williams on his Instagram story. “he continues to be a north star ... blessed to be able to experience that also hip hop 50 this year such beautiful timing.”

Models walked nearly the entire Pont Neuf bridge, into which the Damier print was projected. Fellow designers Jeremy Scott, JW Anderson and Williams’ longtime friend and collaborator Nigo also looked on from the front row.


Other celebrities in attendance include Takashi Murakami, Maluma, Anitta, Naomi Campbell, Quavo, Skepta, ASAP Nast, Reign Judge, Miguel, Kelly Rowland, GOT7’s Jackson Wang and BamBam, NCT’s Yuta, Miranda Kerr, Mia Khalifa, Jaylen Brown, John Boyega, Travis “Taco” Bennett and J Balvin, also attended wearing stunning outfits from Louis Vuitton, Coperni and other designers.

“I’m a Black man — they have given this appointment to a Black man,” Williams told the New York Times. “This is the crown jewel of the LVMH portfolio. It’s everything, and I was appointed to rule in this position. So No. 1, a ruler of a position is usually like a king. But a ruler of this position for me is a perpetual student. It’s what I intend to be.”

After the show, Jay-Z performed some of his songs, including “N— in Paris,” and was joined by Williams for their 2003 song “Frontin’.”