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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.
This story first appeared in the January 18, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“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.