This is an edition of the newsletter Show Notes, in which Samuel Hine reports from the front row of fashion month in Europe. Sign up here to get it in your inbox.
On June 12, the Spring-Summer 2024 menswear shows get underway in, you guessed it, Berlin. This season, all eyes will be on Pharrell’s Louis Vuitton debut in Paris. But there’ll be nonstop action on and off the runways elsewhere, too. After Saint Laurent and Anthony Vaccarello lead off with a hyper-exclusive affair in the German capital, it’s off to Florence, Italy for menswear Coachella—also known as the trade show Pitti Uomo. Then it’s a quick train ride to Prada country for Milan Fashion Week, which precedes a whirlwind blitz through a jam-packed Paris Fashion Week.
As in past seasons, I’ll be your guide to the action on and off the runways in Show Notes, the premier inside-the-velvet-rope fashion week newsletter. And don’t miss my other collection reviews and our revamped street style galleries on GQ.com.
Before I catch my flight to Berlin, I drew up a short list of the most important stories that you’ll be hearing about for the next few weeks. I also want to hear from you. What do you want me to keep an eye out for on my European tour? Reply directly to this email and I’ll be sure to get back to you.
Word on the street is that as soon as the ink dried on Pharrell’s creative director contract with Louis Vuitton men’s, the superproducer and his family moved to Paris and that Skateboard P has been a near-constant presence in the house’s ateliers since. Pharrell clearly understands the stakes of his debut. So what’s he cooking up in the office where his predecessor, Virgil Abloh, laid down custom Supreme carpeting?
Pharrell has been offering a few tantalizing hints. I wouldn’t read too much into the co-branded LV merchandise he sold at his Something In The Water music festival in April—the merch is just merch, albeit underwritten by his new employer. But his personal fits might point us in the right direction. Since Pharrell landed the job, he’s been almost completely Louis-ed out, rotating through archival velvet jackets and new pieces that look like one-off atelier creations. At Something In The Water, he took the stage wearing a custom moto jacket with the phrase “Paris to VA, VA to Paris” emblazoned on the back in a burst of sequins. That hero’s journey—and return—should figure into the theme of his debut. Like Abloh’s, Pharrell’s work will emphasize just how far he’s had to climb to reach the summit of luxury menswear. He’s also worn a couple LV pieces—to a Grammy’s event on Capitol Hill, for example—that can’t readily be placed, like a parka in a camo Daimler check. Is Pharrell pulling on top-secret samples to meet Tim Kaine? He sure could be.
I would also bet that the collection will include a heavy dose of influence from Pharrell’s closest fashion collaborator, Cynthia Lu of artisanal streetwear brand Cactus Plant Flea Market.
One thing you can be sure of: the occasion will bring a level of celebrity wattage to the front row that will reverberate throughout Paris for the rest of the week. (Side note: Who will be the Usher of SS24? He went to almost as many shows last season as I did.) Rumor has it that the show will feature a performance, too. Will Pharrell pull double duty? We’ll find out on June 20, the very first night of PFW.
At the fashion shows in January, the cast of The White Lotus season two dominated the front rows. (It turns out that fashion designers are just like us: they love prestige HBO shows.) Will the Succession alums now take a well-earned victory lap through the halls of quiet—or any other kind of—luxury? So far, there are signs that at least a couple Roy scions could make appearances in Milan: Zegna has put cashmere cuffs on Keiran Culkin as a brand ambassador, and Jeremy Strong is a noted aficionado of two Milanese brands, Prada (which he wore to the Met Gala) and Loro Piana. Also look out for Succession tech villain Alexander Skarsgård, who has been a Giorgio Armani front row regular.
I’d be surprised if a couple other Waystar Royco alums don’t make an appearance in the next few weeks, too. Nicholas Braun is more of a watch guy than a fashion guy, but whichever brand locks him down for an exclusive appearance is guaranteed to make a viral moment. (The 6’7” actor recently wore a custom suit by Dior Men’s, but he could realistically show up anywhere.) The real get for brands this season, though, will be the other Disgusting Brother: Matthew Macfadyen, who portrayed beloved series underdog Tom Wambsgans. Macfadyen has been scarce around the fashion circuit, but after Wambsgans emerged victorious in the series finale, perhaps Macfadyen will claim a piece of stealth wealth for himself.
Three designers on the official Paris Fashion Week schedule recently left high profile gigs. In May, Rhuigi Villaseñor of Rhude parted ways with Bally after just two seasons in what Villaseñor described on Twitter as “my decision not to extend” his contract. Then, rising Parisian star Ludovic de Saint Sernin left Ann Demeulemeester after staging just one runway show, in February, amidst reports of differences with management. That month, of course, Pharrell’s appointment to Louis Vuitton Men’s smothered the single-season dalliance between LV and boisterous Brooklyn designer Colm Dillane of KidSuper. All three will be looking to prove that their futures are brightest when they go it alone.
Eli Russell Linnetz is a fascinating guy. He has directed music videos for Kanye West and photographed cover stories for GQ, and has a past life as an opera singer and a voice actor on—get this—The Emperor’s New Groove. His fashion brand, ERL, embodies his unusual ambition. He designs with a remarkable sense of freedom, and his lookbooks are artful representations of steamy (and occasionally scary) seams of Americana. Last year, he proved what he could do with massive resources when he guest-designed an excellently opulent collection for Dior Men’s, and next week he’ll have his first solo show, as the headlining guest designer at Pitti Uomo in Florence. The Pitti program makes for some mega collections: designers who agree to show in Firenze’s Renaissance environs get a budget, a location, and often support producing clothing in Italy. Which can be a boon for smaller brands, like Telfar, which held a memorably unhinged Pitti show amidst an epic banquet in a palace. It’s too early to say what Linnetz is planning, but it won’t be a typical runway experience—the show is set to start at 10:00 pm.
Whispers about Givenchy creative director Matthew Williams’ job security have circulated for over a year. This month will mark three years since he landed the gig, the exact length of many creative director contracts these days. The average fashion insider swears he’s on the way out. But I’m not so sure. In January, he staged a downright triumphant Givenchy menswear collection, one that coherently articulated a strikingly modern wardrobe, filled with exquisite couture tailoring and elaborately layered casualwear. That show was preceded by his best Alyx collection in years. I think Williams has finally unlocked a winning formula at Givenchy—the question is whether he can keep his hot hand going.
I haven’t heard any rumors that Ye is planning a surprise Yeezy Season 10 show. But his infamous Candace Owens-starring Season 9 debacle in Paris came together at the last minute, and as you can tell by his recent appearances, Ye has been in the silhouette laboratory. Will he try to muscle his way out of the wilderness with linebacker shoulders and sock shoes? If he does, who takes part will inevitably be the biggest part of that story.
I’ve been following Emily Adams Bode Aujla’s rocketship of a career for over five years, after meeting her in early 2018 when she was running her brand, Bode, out of a seventh-floor walkup apartment in the Lower East Side. This week, GQ published my profile of Bode Aujla, which has been years in the making, and which includes deep and personal insight into her enchanting world of menswear. If you haven’t gotten a chance to read it, you can find it here, as well as in the Summer issue of GQ, on newsstands everywhere this week.