The Chanel-Pharrell capsule collection is proof of the power of positive visualisation. “I’ve always been a perpetual fan, so 10 years ago, I started drawing on my shoes,” Pharrell Williams tells the Chanel Métier Class podcast. “I drew the CC on one of the shoes and I drew Chanel Paris on the other, and I was wearing them. My security said to me, ‘You know, one day you’re going to end up doing a collaboration with them,’ and I was like, ‘Never happen!’ Who knew I would wake up one day and they’d say, ‘Come in and do a capsule collection’? The idea that they said, ‘Come join the fam’ is amazing because these types of opportunities have not been afforded to people outside the fashion industry for very long. I was blindly ambitious about that being a possibility and the doors kept opening, and the yeses kept coming. And here we are.”
However, Pharrell points out he has late rapper The Notorious B.I.G. to thank for switching him on to Chanel. “He had a song called One More Chance and he said, ‘Bags by Chanel, baby Benz, traded in your Hyundai Excel.’ It was about elevation, and the idea that he knew that just put Chanel on my radar.”
The 12-time Grammy winner is no stranger to collaboration, whether it be in music or fashion, counting Daft Punk, Snoop Dogg, Jay Z, Missy Elliott, Britney Spears and Katy Perry among his musical coconspirators, while his fashion range in partnership with Japanese streetwear supremo and A Bathing Ape Founder Nigo is called Billionaire Boys Club. Then there’s collaborations with adidas Originals on his CV, too. “When attention to detail is your number-one focus, then the tasks before you – though they take different shapes – it’s pretty much the same premise,” he shrugs.
The collection drops in selected boutiques worldwide, including Chanel at The Dubai Mall, on 5 April. “It’s just essentials” he reveals modestly of his unisex range of colour-block T-shirts, towelling robes, jewellery, leather belts, bucket hats, bum bags, trainers and sunglasses, using the Chanel belts and jumpers he’s been wearing for years as starting point.
With controversy culture currently fuelling social media, and fashion houses criticised for cultural appropriation, Pharrell confirms that Chanel “are a part of that conversation, 100 per cent.” He insists, “I’m here. They’re letting you know they get it.” Breaking it down, he explains, “There are two kinds of corporations in this world: the ones that don’t get that, the ones that are being resistant about it – those are the ones that come out and make a crazy comment that you don’t understand, or they take a stance on something their audience doesn’t understand, or they’re in another country and they say something or do something that is completely offensive to the culture, because they’re not in there… The other side are the people that do know that inclusion and diversity is everything, and you can’t just take inspiration, you’ve got to take the people with you. Chanel’s on that side, and that I’m proud of.”
Photos: Courtesy of Chanel