Chanel-Pharrell—a collection that deftly melds the ethos of the classic French House with Pharrell’s unique brand of swag—has finally been unveiled.
Whether standing in front of the camera or speaking about his friendship with the late Karl Lagerfeld, every moment is filled with what makes Pharrell, well, Pharrell.
Today, we’re shooting the capsule collection that you’ve worked on with Chanel. Can you give us a brief introduction to the collection?
It can be defined as a unisex collection filled with lots of colours. [Points to a pair of sneakers] This item, especially, explains the beginning of my relationship with Chanel. Some years ago, I drew on some sneakers and posted a picture on Instagram. Chanel found it interesting and they contacted me. When I uploaded the picture, I never imagined that one day, I’d be teaming up with the brand. While we were working on this capsule collection, Karl liked to say: “Pharrell, Chanel, Pharrell. Pharrell, Chanel, Parallel.” When I asked him what the name of the collection should be, he simply replied: “Chanel-Pharrell.” In fact, in 2013, I made a song called, “Chanel, Pharrell.” I haven’t released it, but it’s true [laughs].
Hoodie; sneakers; bracelets. Denim jeans; rings, Pharrell’s own. OPPOSITE: Hoodie; t-shirt; sunglasses; necklace
All clothes and jewellery worn throughout are from the Chanel - Pharrell Capsule Collection by Chanel
Do you think that you’ve been able to work on so many projects with Karl Lagerfeld because there were a number of things in common between him and you? [Ed’s note: This interview took place at the end of January, before Lagerfeld’s death.]
It’s an amazing compliment to me that people think there are things in common between Karl and myself! There are probably some parallels between the both of us—I think we care very much about the small details. I don’t think I can fully understand something without focusing on the details; they tell us everything. For example, details convey the meaning and value of something and I spent a lot of time and effort on them when I was working on this collection. Still, it is a great honour for me that we’re able to find common ground. I am just a musician who can only come up with ideas—[that’s] far from being a fashion designer.
What does the collaboration with Chanel mean to you?
Personally, I like Chanel’s collections from the ’90s the most. But Karl Lagerfeld is a “timeless” person who blurs the meaning of time in many ways. Chanel is not just a fashion House—it is a guild of artists; all the people working in the Maison are like artists. It is great to have so much talent gathered under one umbrella. I think the magnetism of the collections comes from them. I feel like I am among a special group of people. And the creativity that underscores all the clothes, jewellery, accessories, and shoes is just wonderful. I’m an African-American man. It’s surprising that a Maison would choose an African-American male musician—and not a prominent designer—to collaborate with for its first capsule collection. Besides, it was very unusual for men to wear Chanel in the past. I used to style myself with Chanel items because I believed I could wear them well. I just wanted to express myself through the clothes that I like and want to wear. Now it feels like I have set up a flea market [laughs], but creating this capsule collection was a different experience altogether. That’s why I wanted to do it and I’ve been able to do it.
Oversized shopper bag; necklaces; bracelets. Coloured stone necklace; coloured stone ring, Pharrell’s own. OPPOSITE: T-shirt; bucket hat; necklaces
What was most important to you while you were creating the collection?
The most important thing for me was to make the collection feel friendly and relatable. Chanel is a brand for women, but my idea was to introduce unisex items and flashes of bright colour to Chanel. I wanted people who wouldn’t usually wear Chanel to want to try it. These pieces could’ve been seen in Reincarnation, [Lagerfeld’s] short film that I made my first movie appearance in. It was about how Coco Chanel got the inspiration for her jacket from a hotel bellboy. When Karl was telling me the story, he started drawing right in front of me. Then, I put on the clothes he designed and appeared in the movie. By the way, when Chanel suggested I appear on the catwalk for the Métiers d’Art Paris-New York 2019 show, I accepted their invitation immediately. I’m not sure if they knew this, but my father’s real name is Pharaoh. And my son’s name is Rocket. But of course, the 2017 fall/winter collection runway show set with the giant rocket was not inspired by his name!
The jewellery pieces from your collection are very fanciful. Can you give us some tips for working them into our everyday wardrobe?
Chanel has some very talented jewellery designers, and I think this collection showcases that. A styling tip? Well, if you’re reading BAZAAR, you are already instinctive and have the sense to just do whatever you want to do with it. It’s about expressing individuality and it depends on what suits you best, how you feel in the morning, what your plans are for the day, and the weather. Some people say that you can never have too much jewellery, but it might not necessarily apply all the time. I always remove one item before leaving the house. It adjusts the balance.
Robe; sweater; denim jeans; oversized chain bag; slippers. Bracelets; rings, Pharrell’s own. OPPOSITE: Robe; necklace; bracelets (left hand). Coloured stone necklace; bracelets (right hand); rings (right hand), Pharrell’s own
Editor: Lee Jinsun Production: Woori Bae
What are you inspired by when you’re creating music, fashion, or working on your other projects?
I don’t want to fill in the empty parts with what I’ve seen before, but what I’ll see in the future. I’d rather find something new that never existed before. This desire to find something new could be the source of my inspiration.
Photographed by Frederike Helwig.
Styled by Laure Dansou