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Pharrell headlines opening day of Paris Fashion Week

Pharrell was spotted in a cowboy hat this week -- a hint at his new collection? (EMMANUEL DUNAND)

Pharrell was spotted in a cowboy hat this week — a hint at his new collection? (EMMANUEL DUNAND)

The shows were barely over in Milan but the fashion crowd had already shifted to Paris on Tuesday, with Pharrell Williams hinting at a cowboy theme for his opening day show for Louis Vuitton.

The luxury sector has become one of the most crucial success stories in the European economy despite its associations with social inequality and the vast environmental damage wrought by the fashion industry.

The season began in Milan last week and continues in Paris with autumn/winter menswear collections from the likes of Dior, Hermes and Loewe.

Hip-hop star Williams, known for hit singles such as “Happy” and “Get Lucky”, took over as creative director at Louis Vuitton last year in a sign of the increasingly lucrative cross-pollination between fashion, music and sports. (Basketballer LeBron James is its latest brand ambassador.)

He presents his second show late on Tuesday among the fairground rides of the Jardin d’Acclimatation, a stone’s throw from the company’s Louis Vuitton Foundation art museum, estimated to have cost some 800 million euros (870 million) to build.

The style of the invitations — replete with harmonica for every guest — and recent sightings of Williams in a cowboy hat suggest his new collection will be themed around the American West.

There has been criticism from local officials over the brand’s intrusions on daily life in Paris, particularly after Williams took over the entire Pont Neuf bridge for his debut runway show last summer, shutting down traffic circulation in the city’s historic centre.

But as the first brand to hit 20 billion euros in revenue last year, it has a lot of firepower.

Other brands are racing to keep up, with several big-name designers booted out recently in the cut-throat race for profits.

Givenchy parted ways with menswear boss Matthew Williams this month. His replacement has yet to be announced.

Gucci, Chloe and Alexander McQueen all saw new creative directors last year.

There are few major changes in this week’s line-up, though Balmain is returning to menswear shows for the first time in several years.

There are 42 brands holding runway shows during the menswear week, and another 32 organising presentations of their new collections.

The pace is relentless. After menswear comes haute couture week for the most luxurious and bespoke outfits.

Having already been through Milan, the fashion caravan then decamps for Miami, Copenhagen, New York, London, and then back to Milan and Paris for womenswear shows in February.

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