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Pharrell Williams kicks off Paris Fashion Week for Vuitton



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Pharrell Williams at the Louis Vuitton show at Paris fashion week. Credits: Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP

Paris Fashion Week kicked off on Tuesday with hip-hop mogul Pharrell Williams playing on the language of one-world unity as he staged his latest branding event for Louis Vuitton at the UNESCO headquarters.

The show celebrated "global dandies", with lots of diplomat-style double-breasted suits, pilot-inspired bombers and lots of takes on the label's iconic luggage for the ultra-rich leisure traveller.

The choice of models was colour-coded to match skin tones with outfits -- "a palette rendered in the nuances of skin tones of all the humans of the planet," as the show notes put it.

There were silk-style pyjama suits and glittery new takes on the pixelated Damier check pattern that has been popular through Williams' tenure.

He took over a year ago as creative director of the world's most profitable luxury label in a sign of the lucrative crossover between fashion, music and celebrity.

His lavish debut that year saw him take over Paris's historic Pont Neuf bridge, and his follow-up in January was an ode to Americana that looked like a carefully staged tie-in with superstar singer Beyonce's new cowboy-themed album.

For his latest, the "Happy" singer took over the home of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, a symbol of international diplomacy in Paris.

Under the theme "The World is Yours", a teaser on Instagram featured children as diplomats being encouraged to work for a more unified world -- with Vuitton-branded briefcases, naturally.

The political message in this year's Olympic host city resonated on the front row at a time when the French far-right is surging in polls ahead of a snap election due in two weeks.

"We are living in a very tense period," said Djiby Kebe, of the Air Afrique art collective that made the short film. "France is opening up to the world like never before -- with this show, with the Olympics -- but we find ourselves with the possibility of a far-right government which terrifies us," he told AFP.

The label's parent company, LVMH, announced a strengthening of its partnership with UNESCO on environmental projects in April. That cannot come too soon for campaigners.

Louis Vuitton, the world's most profitable fashion brand, scored just 29 out of 100 in the most recent Fashion Transparency Index by Fashion Revolution, which monitors areas such as environmental impact and labour rights.

Burc Akyol

This week features the menswear shows, followed immediately by the haute couture shows until June 27.

Earlier on Monday, popular newcomer Burc Akyol presented a mix of demure and racy outfits, which he said were born of his conflicted feelings over his recent civil partnership.

"It's an explosion of someone who has so many things to say but only has five minutes," he said, after a show featuring his trademark high-slit skirts, tight wraps and lots of transparent tops.

"I'm still a very young brand and every day has its own struggles. I go from cloud nine to minus one," said Akyol, who has been frank about the financial difficulties facing new labels.

"The more we grow, the more we're meeting our market. It's very responsive but we have to stick to it," he told AFP.

The Games have brought fashion week forward from July, forcing some houses to abandon this season, including Balmain, Valentino and Givenchy.

A key highlight for fashionistas will be Vogue World, a mega-party organised by the magazine on Sunday, bringing together the doubly lucrative worlds of sports and luxury clothes.

The industry is also preparing to say farewell to one of its most lauded designers, Belgium's Dries Van Noten, who is retiring after his show on Saturday.(AFP)

Louis Vuitton
Paris Fashion Week
Pharrell Williams