While most luxury brands have strict embargoes surrounding new product launches, this week Louis Vuitton’s creative director, Pharrell Williams, took a more laissez-faire approach.

On Tuesday night, during Paris men’s fashion week, Williams officially unveiled his autumn/winter 2024 collection in front of a star-studded audience that included the actors Bradley Cooper and Carey Mulligan, the rapper Lil Yachty and the K-pop band Riize.

However, in the days leading up to the show, Williams gave fans a sneak peek of the collection as he dropped hints as to what the show’s theme would be, taking to a fake Instagram account to post candid shots of himself wearing a brown suede Stetson hat and sketches of ranch workers by the American animator Ron Husband.

The western theme was confirmed as soon as the show’s 1,200 guests filed into the show’s pop-up box-shaped venue adjacent to the Jardin d’Acclimatation and overshadowed by LVMH’s gargantuan Frank Gehry-designed art museum. The catwalk which wove itself around the audience was a burnt dust color while a giant Zoom-like video screen projected a barren desert vista.

The collection was rooted in the classic American western wardrobe. Photograph: Teresa Suárez/EPA

The clothes riff on ranch wear, albeit with a high-end honky-tonk spin. Models wore silk yoked shirts and intricately embellished denim chaps. One chore jacket featured a print of a cowboy surveying land while a white double-breasted suit bore cacti motifs. Carved leather work was inspired by stock saddles. Nearly every model wore several iterations of a cowboy hat ranging from slick leather to soft suede versions.

“When you see cowboys depicted you see only a few versions,” Williams said backstage after the show. “You never really get to see what some of the original cowboys looked like. They looked like us. They looked like me. They were black and they were Native American.”

Western inspiration has long been permeated by Hollywood and fashion. However, it’s an aesthetic that has often been whitewashed. While on-screen archetypal cowboys have been depicted as white, historians estimate that one in four cowboys were, in fact, black. The “yee-haw agenda” that aims to correct this narrative and reassert visibility has been boosted by a recent string of pop culture moments including Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour in which metallic cowboy hats became a fan fixture. And now Louis Vuitton, which has begun to transcend its original fashion roots in an effort to transform itself into a “cultural brand”.

Pharrell Williams on the runway during the Louis Vuitton show in Paris. Photograph: Stéphane Cardinale/Corbis/Getty Images

“In a broader context, this reassertion is crucial as it dismantles stereotypes and expands the narrative around black culture,” said the fashion and costume historian Shelby Ivey Christie. “It’s not just a fashion statement; it’s a cultural affirmation that emphasizes the diverse and multifaceted nature of black experiences.”

Many of the accessories were made in collaboration with Native American artists from the Dakota and Lakota nations such as blankets that featured parfleche motifs and Speedy bags decorated with hand-painted desert flowers. Williams said he wanted to “appreciate” not “appropriate”. This extends to the soundtrack too with music co-composed by Williams and Lakota “Hokie” Clairmont and performed by a group called Native Voices of Resistance. Other tracks included new material from Mumford & Sons produced by Williams. The polymath later joined the British trio onstage at an after-party performance.

While the messaging of the collection may have been inclusive, many of the pieces were aimed at the 1%. The bags, of which there were plenty, ranged from tiny crossbody versions to colossal carry-ons that made the brand’s $1,000,000 Speedy bag from Williams’ debut collection look minute. Mirrored and pixelated “Cowmooflage” trunks had to be wheeled on trolleys.

It’s the more practical pieces such as rodeo-ready denim jeans and matching button-down shirts that will appeal to the masses and, no doubt, be copied by the high street. Williams called these pieces, rooted in the classic American western wardrobe, “worker-wear”. Chunky wheat-colored boots were part of a collaboration with Timberland, the Louis Vuitton logo embossed on the tongue of the shoe which has become synonymous with construction workers and hip-hop artists. “If you are going to spend your disposable income in a time like this it needs to be on something that is actually going to last,” Williams said.

Next week LVMH will host its annual earnings conference which should provide a gauge as to how Williams’ debut collection is performing in stores. In 2022, Louis Vuitton became the first luxury brand to record €20bn in annual sales.