Pharrell At Louis Vuitton Celebrates The Diversity Of Human Skin In Paris Unesco Show

A model wears a creation as part of the Louis Vuitton Spring Summer 2025 collection, that was presented in Paris, France, Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)
A model wears a creation as part of the Louis Vuitton Spring Summer 2025 collection, that was presented in Paris, France, Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)
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PARIS (AP) — With just over a month before the Paris Olympics, Louis Vuitton celebrated the beauty of humans and their skin in a star-studded menswear showcase at the headquarters of U.N. cultural agency UNESCO in Paris. Models wearing garb in all the hues of human flesh paraded around a giant globe on grass patterned in Vuitton's signature Damier check, creating a visual symphony of diversity.

Here are some highlights of spring 2025 shows:

Vuitton's human

“It was an homage to human beings,” said menswear designer Pharrell Williams, who name-checked the Summer Olympics, for a show that felt like a journey across continents against a backdrop of the Eiffel Tower and a giant shell globe. “It went from black to dark brown to brown to light brown to beige, a little bit of gray … and then finally to white,” the singer-turned-couturier said of the spring display.

The spectacular collection prominently featured checks in shades of green, blue and black, drawing inspiration from the designs of Air Afrique luggage. The airline, which operated from the 1960s for decades, has become a symbol of diasporic creativity, according to Vuitton. With contributions from creatives like Lamine Diaoune and Djiby Kebe, Williams infused the collection with a sense of global unity.

Inspired by the U.N. cultural headquarters populated with ambassadors, Williams explored various archetypes. The diplomat was featured in deep, rich tones of 1970s-inflected tailoring. The explorer appeared in sturdy yet stylish outerwear, including utility jackets and vests. The dandy, another key figure, strutted down the Damier-check grass runway in jackets and coats adorned with rhinestones and pearl embroidery.

Set against a dramatic sky, with shifting clouds and fluttering world flags, the collection’s progression of colors mirrored the diversity of the models, moving from darker to lighter tones in multicultural harmony. This theme extended to the garments, which included pixelated python skin patterns and world maps centered on Africa. A reinterpretation of the Damier pattern featured pale brown checks with multicolored accents. Soccer ball leather designs paid tribute to the world’s favorite sport.

The show, which was neat and saleable, blended complexity with apparent simplicity — amid the richness of the diaspora.

Enamel maps were embedded in buttons, and the LV logo appeared subtly embossed on materials. Intricate details like black-on-black embroidery and crystal and pearl accents added layers of sophistication. Elsewhere, vintage-inspired designs in soft leather had oversized monogram patterns and aged leather trims.

Once again, the celebrity designer made the show almost more about the act of putting on a spectacle, rather than a showcase for clothes. This appears to be the zeitgeist. Among the stars applauding were Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender.

Speaking about the tumult of the world currently, and the prevalence of the world’s flags around the U.N. building representing some nations at loggerheads or worse, Pharrell said that he would “never dare to think (this show) could be a reason for people to come together. But to present that notion (of peace) and to present the possibility in a poetic way, is the only thing that we can do."

Kenzo’s Jungle

Coarse golden sand around a frothing fountain in the storied courtyards of Paris’ Palais Royal —a stone’s throw from the brand's foundational boutique — set the scene for Nigo’s latest co-ed show for Kenzo. As the sun was setting, what could have been a more delightful place for his latest showcase? Just over two years after his history-making moment as the house’s first Japanese designer since its late founder Kenzo Takada, Nigo returned to the brand’s roots with a vibrant and culturally rich collection.

Inspired by Kenzo's love for Henri Rousseau’s jungle paintings, Nigo used these motifs as prints on several looks — including on loose suit jackets and pants. The result? A seamless fusion of Eastern and Western influences that has become signature.

Fashion insiders delighted when a cuddly toy — a stuffed tiger — appeared perched on a model’s shoulder. This kitsch moment of questionable genius saw Nigo cleverly reinterpreting Rousseau’s masterpiece, which depicted the big cat.

Urban vests adorned with colored flower gemstones that resembled insects, urban neon hoods, metallic net bags, and a sheath featuring an Asian garden scene around the Eiffel Tower further showcased Nigo’s innovative use of fabrics, textures — and tongue-in-cheek humor. Designs elsewhere merged streetwear with luxury fashion, but one question persists of aesthetic: There’s a lot of funk with Nigo, but is there enough finesse?

There are more important issues. As the luxury industry continues to grapple with issues of racism and diversity, Louis Vuitton menswear designer Pharrell Williams stood out as one of the few front row guests to give Nigo a standing ovation. It was a poignant moment.

Saunders' thespian melting pot

Bianca Saunders’ models trod the broads for a spring collection Wednesday that riffed on the boho thespian — all upon an old-school bricked runway.

This latest collection by the British-Jamaican designer, known for her digital-first approach and inclusive designs, showcased her signature blend of minimalism and cultural references.

Pantomime-style boots in soft leather and plimsoll-style shoes fused with unexpected, haphazard touches and flashes of eye-popping blue created a melting pot feel. It was like a theater casting director had opened a chic dressing-up box. These elements highlighted Saunders’ ability to mix tradition with modernity, a theme she consistently explores.

A blue mesh onesie and cap added an urban touch while playing on the theatricality present throughout the collection. Similarly, a satin blue foulard T-shirt shimmered beautifully with its generous proportions, emphasizing Saunders’ knack for innovative use of textures and fabrics.

Netted bobble hats were a perfect archetype of the spring fare — part East London net shopping bag, part Old Master artist. This clever use of materials and accessories is a testament to Saunders’ commitment to sustainability, often utilizing deadstock fabrics from platforms like Nona Source and materials from Positive Materials and Isko.

At times, Saunders seemed to align with fashion brand Loewe’s latest aesthetics, yet she maintained her distinct identity through her cultural references and innovative approach to menswear.

Mystical meets modern at Undercover

Crowns of golden thorns, sandals, and loose tunic-like jackets added a mystical quality to Undercover’s spring. Designer Jun Takahashi masterfully blended high fashion with streetwear. The show, a spectacle of contrasts, felt both ancient and modern, drawing on the designer’s knack for hybridization.

Loose silhouettes, distressed and deconstructed, paraded down the runway, effortlessly combining the avant-garde with the wearable. Though layered and busy, ensembles maintained a visual coherence that showcased Takahashi’s meticulous approach to construction. His ability to mix familiar wardrobe staples imaginatively was on full display, from rough cotton and linens to striking prints.

Veils and lace adornments around the neck added an ethereal touch, evoking a sense of spiritual journey, while historic trains on some garments straddled both urban and Renaissance. Hoods on tracksuits, reminiscent of Mary Magdalene, yet infused with hip-hop mystique, showcased the designer’s ability to draw from diverse cultural symbols.

A pleated printed skirt celebrated the passion of the nonbinary, further emphasizing Takahashi’s commitment to inclusivity in fashion.