Chatting With Taeyong, More Rihanna for Vuitton, AmfAR’s NFT Contest – WWD

A BRIEF CHAT: Turns out getting five minutes with Taeyong takes almost an hour.

Everyone wanted to get a photo with the K-pop star after Saturday’s Loewe show, where he made his first appearance as global brand ambassador. Along with designer Jonathan Anderson, he was swamped by photographers — and starstruck guests who wanted to snap selfies — after the show.

It wasn’t his first Loewe show. Taeyong attended Jonathan Anderson’s show last season as well. He’s been a longtime fan of the brand, and admitted that on his first trip to Paris he made a trip to the Loewe store to pick up a Puzzle bag.

“I believe that marked the beginning of this special journey with Loewe that led up to this moment,” he told WWD backstage after the show.

“I feel very honored to be the first global ambassador because I’ve been influenced by Loewe a lot,” he said. He still has the bag, and is often photographed carrying it.

Taeyong, who is the leader of the group NCT 127, said fashion plays a big part in his performances.

“Because the music I do involves a lot of performance on stage, fashion plays a big part,” he said. “And aside from that, I‘ve always had a lot of interest in fashion. So, all factors you mentioned come in synergy when it comes to describing who I am.”

The music genre itself is known for its energetic and intricate dance performances, along with the music, costumes and brightly colored hair. On this afternoon, Taeyong sported slicked-back purple locks.

“Our fanbase is strongly rooted in younger generations and this is when people are forming their own set of passions and styles,” he said. “As K-pop artists, we can inspire many people, especially teenagers, to embrace their own passions, and we try to do that through performances. So I think all these different reasons explain why people are naturally attracted to K-pop.”

As part of NCT 127, he has been able to play with looks from hip-hop-inspired to tropical, colorful styles to neo-futuristic.

“Over the past several years, I was experimenting with different fashion styles, and being a part of NCT also allowed me to explore various styles,” he said. “I think this is the main reason I feel comfortable wearing so many styles and developed an ability to not dwell on just one style.”

The group has a rumored album slated for the fall, and while Taeyong was mum about any specifics he said he hopes to be back to work in the studio soon.

“We don’t have a tour planned as of this moment, but because our first album received so much love and support, we’ll probably get started on our second album, soon.”

Taeyong just released his first solo mini-album, titled “Shalala,” and a single of the same name. He dropped some hints on what might happen before he’s back in the studio with NCT 127.

“During the prep time [for an NCT 127 album], I might do my own tour as a solo artist Taeyong,” he revealed.

“But for now, I’m putting NCT first and am more focused on solidifying my identity as a member of NCT by showing more unique performances.”

When he reunites with his other nine group members, they are also ready to experiment with new genres. “New sound, new performances — it’s kind of a new challenge. It’s coming out soon. It’s very soon.”

Words that are sure to be music to the ears of the hundreds of fans waiting outside the show. — RHONDA RICHFORD AND MIN JEE PARK

NEED FOR SPEEDY: Louis Vuitton has released the full Rihanna-fronted ad campaign to reveal the vision of Pharrell Williams, its new men’s creative director.

The brand had teased the campaign last week with a giant billboard on the side of the Musée d’Orsay, just ahead of Williams’ debut runway show in Paris, which Rihanna attended with her musician husband A$AP Rocky.

Vuitton described the ad images as artifacts “created to alter perceptions, challenge history and evolve an existing legacy. Personified by a pregnant Rihanna — a symbol of human empowerment and the quintessential everyday icon — the men’s campaign reflects the re-contextualization at the core of Pharrell Williams’ approach to the maison.”

While that sounds lofty, the campaign essentially puts Williams’ reimagined Speedy bag front-and-center as Rihanna’s pregnancy bump.

Keizō Kitajima and Martine Syms

According to Vuitton, the classic Speedy was one of the first bags the “Happy” singer owned. The travel tote was created by Gaston-Louis Vuitton, grandson of the founder, in 1930.

Williams’ version is “informed by the cosmopolitan nucleus” that inspired his “early education in luxury: Canal Street on Lower Manhattan, New York City; a cultural axis invigorated by a diverse energy and hustle mentality echoed in corresponding streets around the metropolises of the world.”

“The new Speedy conjures through the inimitable savoir-faire of the maison a visual language evocative of the codes and stylistic attitude of Canal Street. It is an everyday icon conceived for every walk of life,” Vuitton added in a statement. (For years, Canal Street was synonymous with counterfeit luxury goods.)

The new Speedy kept its trapezoidal lines, but the bags are now expressed in supple grained calf leather. “The softened construction enables the bottom of the bag to collapse and drape the way it would through everyday wear and gestures,” according to Vuitton. “The silkscreen-printed Monogram induces a blurry, artisanal and almost hand-painted effect, rendered in several colors.”

Rihanna, the new Speedy and other Vuitton products by Williams were photographed by Keizo Kitajima and Martine Syms in a studio.

Keizō Kitajima and Martine Syms

Cynthia Lu and Matthew Henson, both longtime collaborators of Williams, styled the spots, which will appear on all Vuitton’s digital channels.

Rihanna also appears in a short video, lugging colorful handbags through the city streets at dusk, also juggling a paper coffee cup.

Williams further promoted his version of the Speedy by dutifully toting the emblematic accessory to the many shows he attended during men’s fashion week in Paris, including Junya Watanabe, Kenzo, Dior and Loewe. — MILES SOCHA

STAR JUDGES: A panel including Kate Moss, Kendall Jenner, Natalia Vodianova, Jeff Koons, Baz Luhrmann and J Balvin will judge NFT submissions for the charitable digital art competition led by the AIDS Research nonprofit organization amfAR and Prospect 100.

Kate Moss, Kendall Jenner, and Natalia Vodianova

Kate Moss, Kendall Jenner and Natalia Vodianova.


Billed as a new way that will “revolutionize how you can support the mission to end the global AIDS epidemic,” the Global Design Competition invites designers from around the world to create backgrounds for amfAR’s NFT collection, inspired by its work and Pride Month. Submissions close on July 9.

Some 100 artists will be selected and have their work randomly combined with amfAR’s character as well as a number of high-profile figures from the art world to form amfAR’s debut NFT collection.

Having raised $1.7 million for the Ukrainian government via an online NFT design competition last year in partnership with Fair.Xyz, the amfAR NFT collection will go on sale, with 100 percent of proceeds going to help achieve the mission of ending the global AIDS epidemic.

Harry Beard, cofounder of Prospect 100, a company that was founded on the idea that “design can be used as a force for good and we have been very proud to make this a reality,” believes that “we are at the beginnings of what has the potential to be the most impactful digital art project in history” with the launch of the competition.

Kyle Clifford, chief development officer at amfAR, called the partnership “a great opportunity to raise money to support the dedicated researchers pursuing a cure.”

Vodianova, model and founder of Naked Heart Foundation, added that “AIDS remains a major global public health issue, and amfAR’s related research efforts result in immense positive impact. The creative industry influences people of all generations throughout very diverse geographies, and the power of our voices should continue to raise awareness to prevent infections and eliminate stigma.” — TIANWEI ZHANG

HEARING CRIQUET: When it comes to golf films, “Caddyshack” is undoubtedly one of the most popular. So it’s no surprise that Hobson Brown and Billy Nachman, cofounders of the Texas-based golf brand, Criquet, turned to the movie as inspiration for a new capsule collection.

Called Pool’s Closed, the line is whimsical and colorful and includes reimagined version of Criquet’s signature four-button placket polo and five-inch inseam swim trunks. Criquet also collaborated with Seamus golf on a Sunday bag and headcovers.

But what makes this capsule different is the artwork from Donald Robertson, which is featured on the pieces.

Robertson is known for his cartoon-ish style work and has collaborated with Bergdorf Goodman, Comme des Garçons, Warby Parker, Canada Goose and others over the years.

The swim shorts also feature Robertson’s artwork.

“We felt a kindred spirit to Donald and are big fans of his work,” Brown said. “Our shared love of ‘80s pop culture plus our somewhat devilish sense of humor made it all the more fun to work together. We also all live in Texas, so we are super excited to donate a portion of the proceeds of the ‘Pool’s Closed’ collection to the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center.”

“I moved to Dallas recently and started painting a lot of golf stuff. It caught the eye of the Criquet shirt guys,” Robertson said. “That and [in] all my kids’ class pics on Instagram, they are in Criquet shirts. Austin, where they are based, is hipper than Dallas so I’m doing this collab to edge myself up a bit.”

“We love everything about Donald’s art…the playfulness, the sense of humor, the color palettes, the vintage vibe and the subtle — and not so subtle — nods to the preppy lifestyle that Hobson and I grew up with in New York City in the ‘80’s,” Nachman added. “These are common themes and notes that live throughout our brand and product. So when we noticed that he was a fan of our shirts and brand, we reached out thinking this could be a really cool opportunity to collaborate with an artist who appreciates life in a similar way as we do.”

Prices range from $115 for the swim trunks and $125 for the polo to $425 for the golf bag and $95 for the headcovers. It is available on the Criquet e-commerce site. — JEAN E. PALMIERI

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