China’s A-listers flock to Hong Kong for Pharrell Williams' fashion show


By AGENCY

Hong Kong actor Aaron Kwok arrives for the Pharrell Williams Pre-Fall 2024 Louis Vuitton menswear show in Hong Kong. Photo: AFP

Some of China’s most popular celebrities and K-drama stars gathered at Louis Vuitton’s first ever fashion show in Hong Kong, as the luxury brand seeks to boost business in the region.

Designer Pharrell Williams unveiled his Pre-fall 2024 men’s collection to about 1,200 guests, including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon star Chow Yun-fat and popular South Korean actor, and brand ambassador, Song Joong-ki.

In a nod to the region’s big-spending younger customers, Gen Z favourites like Chinese boy band Teens In Times and K-pop performer Felix also attended.

The brand transformed the iconic Avenue Of Stars harbour-front promenade into a beach in the city, including a sandy runway.

Read more: Pharrell Williams' upcoming fashion show in HK inspired by 'cultural vibrancy'

Models presented Williams’ vision for the season, which included naval-inspired sets and homages to Hawaiian-style tropical shirts.

Guests were serenaded by 50 ukuleles as they took their seats and a swarm of drones lit up the sky as the event neared its end, reflecting the popularity of light shows in the region.

The glitzy spectacle reflects LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE’s increasing commitment to the region.

Despite some near-term economic turbulence that’s weighed on recent results – sales in Asia, excluding Japan, grew a disappointing 11% in the third quarter on signs of weakness in mainland China – the country is viewed as a robust luxury market in years to come.

The firm has been at the forefront of shifting more resources into mainland China in order to capture the post-Covid shift by wealthy Chinese to buying more of their luxury goods domestically instead of taking expensive trips abroad.

Pharrell Williams appears at the end of his first men's Pre-Fall show in Hong Kong. Photo: ReutersPharrell Williams appears at the end of his first men's Pre-Fall show in Hong Kong. Photo: Reuters

Its DFS Group is set to build a major shopping and entertainment complex on the tax-free island of Hainan, and LVMH is considering an overhaul of the China operations of its Sephora unit.

The show also comes at a crucial time for Hong Kong. Once a magnet for luxury shoppers, the 2019 protests, a crackdown on civil society and years of harsh Covid curbs have damaged its allure for tourists.

In particular, mainland Chinese – who account for about 80% of total inbound travelers and are a core pillar of the city’s retail landscape – have been slow to return and, when they do, are opting for more low-key or experience-focused activities.

LVMH itself is shifting resources out of the financial hub in order to focus more of its investment in burgeoning metropolises across the border.

Hong Kong’s sluggish rebound has seen the city roll out global summits and give away free plane tickets.

Tycoons have also looked to revive consumption by offering vouchers and hosting events, including billionaire Henry Cheng and his family, whose New World Development Co operates the Avenue Of Stars.

Read more: 'I pinch myself every day': Pharrell Williams on his Louis Vuitton appointment

Despite the headwinds, Hong Kong remains an important gateway to mainland China and the Louis Vuitton show may help revive interest in the city as a luxury destination.

It’s already proved popular in China, where a hashtag for the event was the top trending topic on Weibo. And local fans who couldn’t snag an invite tried to steal a glimpse from dozens of boats on the harbour.

LVMH is set to return to Hong Kong soon. Dior, another brand in Bernard Arnault’s sprawling empire, is set to show its men’s Pre-Fall show in the financial hub next year. – Bloomberg

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