PARIS — Get Pharrell Williams talking about fine jewelry and he's as clear and emphatic on the subject as the giant diamond solitaire ring on his finger — "D flawless, no inclusions, colorless," he points out.
"It's a costly habit of mine," Williams said, also showing off a Casio watch, N.E.R.D.-logo belt buckle and key fob, all pavéd in diamonds — not to mention the gold-plated BlackBerry and cell phone stuffed in his pockets. "It's fun to do it on Louis Vuitton's dime for once."
The music superstar will unveil his long-awaited jewelry collection for the French luxury giant Monday night during couture week here.
Created in collaboration with Vuitton's in-house jewelry designer Camille Miceli, the collection includes such striking styles as a cherub ring with a gem clutched between tiny fingers, a three-foot-long necklace of diamond crowns and crests and "secret society" rings and bracelets featuring an LV-logo emblem that flips over to plain pavé.
Several years in the making, the collection — named Blason, the French word for coat of arms — is slated to arrive in 21 Vuitton stores in April, including locations in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Paris and Tokyo. Retail prices are expected to range from about 1,400 euros, or $2,070 at current exchange, for a yellow gold ring to 420,000 euros, or $620,760, for a necklace in white gold and diamonds.
In an interview, Williams discussed his evolving — and trendsetting — taste in jewelry, his interest shifting recently from oversize and showy necklaces to high-tech gadgets and rugged fare like mountaineering clips, which he has pavéd in diamonds.
Having designed his own personal jewelry for years, Williams approached Vuitton creative director Marc Jacobs about a possible jewelry project after a 2004 collaboration on eyewear, according to Miceli.
Williams brought Miceli two books — one on Art Deco, another on Africa — proving they were birds of a feather. Both influences figure in the collection: Africa in the chunky proportions of bracelet and earring styles, Art Deco in a graphic grouping of stylized, crisscross LV logos in white and yellow gold.
A coat of arms, inspired by French Freemasons, is at the center of the collection, figuring on everything from delicate rings in pink sapphires to a colorful can't-miss-it hunk of a glittering belt buckle. It depicts an LV logo atop a checkerboard pattern — a wink to the brand's Damier check — with heraldic rays emanating from the floral center.The idea for cherub rings and bracelets, meanwhile, came from the angel tattoo splashed across Williams' neck. "We all need angels around us and angels make us feel better," he explained.
Williams and Miceli shot a promotional video for the jewelry, which is backed by a new Williams track, "Everyone Knows." The video will be screened at the launch event — with Kanye West, Marianne Faithfull and Diane Kruger expected to be among the VIP guests — and will later appear on Vuitton's Web site.
Meanwhile, having recently taken delivery of an Hermès Haut à Courroies bag Williams had custom-made in purple baby crocodile, he said handbags and watches are probably his next fashion project, though the rap star and producer couldn't yet say for which brand.
Besides his projects with Vuitton, Williams also partners with Japanese fashion star Nigo for the Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream lines.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast