Rihanna Stalks the Night in Pharrell Williams' Moody Film for Louis Vuitton Bags

Put your stunner shades on

Rihanna's loud even when quiet; now luxuriously pregnant, this effect is only magnified. It's little surprise, but still pretty delicious, that she's Pharrell Williams' first égérie for his emerging vision of Louis Vuitton. Like both pop star/entrepreneurs, the brand's updated flourishes make a big statement without having to say much at all.

This inaugural campaign video with Rihanna sets the stage for the newly interpreted Speedy travel bag (already sold out, and for which there's also a million-dollar variant). Directed by Martine Syms, with stills shot by Keizō Kitajima, Rihanna saunters down city streets by night in chunky boots, her belly fruit-ripe between the folds of a bright faux-fur coat—in some shots, anyway.

In most of the sequences, she is extravagantly overloaded with stacks on stacks of sunshiny LV bags, notably the Speedy. So, the bags' superfluous multiplicity feel like a fresh move.

Rihanna ain't got time for stealth wealth. Neither does Pharrell. All of this is made bearable because Williams cuts the stodge out of the brand's iconography.

The Speedys are big. (Audrey Hepburn notably asked for a smaller version that would better suit her frame.) Their appearance is undercut by the fact that the LV monogram in standard traveling brown is now as much a symbol for knockoff culture as its opposite. With the codes thus muddled, the brand's been profaned.

Williams sees opportunity there: When you're profane, you can be fun. And when you're fun, you can revisit what aspirational luxury looks and feels like. You can aspire to heights other luxury pillars can't attain. From the perspective of his inverted Tiffany specs, luxury investments should clearly make you happy; your pupils should dilate on-sight, like stepping into the sunshine. And if you can't afford 36 Speedys like Rihanna, swinging them around like a technicolor dreamcoat, you can simulate that sense of luxury in other ways: bodacious boots, or a midriff over a flagrantly pregnant belly.

Suddenly, this vibe feels not so much about possessions as about evoking pleasure itself. Pharrell and Rihanna remind us that there is so much more to style than consumption.

Beyond this energy, their stories play a part here too. Williams' approach to fashion is intelligent but infectiously playful, like his beats. Rihanna's carved a diversified career (and reputation) out of serious difficulty, but a streak of subversive mischief also colors her hard focus. These qualities merge nicely with the Louis Vuitton brand heritage, especially post-Abloh. The classic Speedy was one of the first bags Williams ever owned. The new visual language he's chosen evokes the style of Canal Street, where he got his first luxury education. "It is an everyday icon conceived for everyday life," the pressie gushes.

The Speedy travel bag was created by Gaston-Louis Vuitton in 1930. Initially dubbed the "Express," inspired by that period's "infatuation with speed and cars," a monogram canvas version appeared in 1959, and the thing exploded in popularity among celebrities. It's since become a framework for evolution and inspiration within the Maison.

Williams' iteration of the Speedy, the brand explains, is "personified by a pregnant Rihanna—a symbol of human empowerment and the quintessential everyday icon." The language is correct, but unsurprisingly out of tune with the relaxed way she and Williams work with these codes. That, too—an ease in one's movements, one's skin, one's season in life—is a contribution they make to the luxury arena. You can cut a figure that's unselfconscious, unabashed, and intentionally you. It's a fascinating antithesis to subtler, but dogmatic and uninviting takes on luxury.

If you missed it, check out the highlights of Williams' first LV runway show since his February appointment to creative director. The "Damouflage"—a cross between camouflage and Vuitton's signature damier pattern—is an inspired touch. The muted shades of the Minecrafty pixellated blocks on outerwear contrast nicely with the flamboyance of those big-ass vitamin C-enhanced bags.

CREDITS

DIRECTOR - MARTINE SYMS @martinesyms
BRAND - LOUIS VUITTON @louisvuitton
CREATIVE DIRECTOR, LOUIS VUITTON - PHARRELL WILLIAMS @pharrell
CREATIVE DIRECTION - BE GOOD STUDIOS @beg00dstudios
DP - CHAYSE IRVIN @chayseirvin
PRODUCTION - 138 PRODUCTIONS  @onethirtyeightproductions
STYLING: CYNTHIA LIU & MATTHEW HENSON @henson
PRODUCTION DESIGNER - JAMES CHINLUND @jchinlund
1ST AD - KENNETH TAYLOR @itsjustkennytaylor
WARDROBE - NATASHA NEWMAN-THOMAS @neverhavetotweet
EDITORIAL - CABIN @cabinedit
EDITOR - MISCHA MEYER @mischameyer
COLOR  - COLOR COLLECTIVE @color_collective
VFX - ETHOS @ethos_studio
POST PRODUCER - ESTHER GONZALEZ @flat_eeee
MUSIC - ASMA MAROOF & DANIEL PINEDA
@_asmara_ @uknowna

Profile picture for user Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

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