Pharrell is a Man of Style
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In an age of Multitasking hyphenates, Pharrell Williams takes it to a new level – producer/singer (his funk-rock band, N¤E¤R¤D, has a CD due in spring) and fashion magnate (he co-designs Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream). Oh, and there’s a jewelry line he has designed for Louis Vuitton that arrives in stores this season. Stylewise, the 34-year-old whiz is equally versatile – debonair in a Ralph Lauren suit, skater-coll in Japanese anime-inspired T-shirt, and as gilded as King Midas (his iPod is encased in gold). “Not Midas,” he demurs. “I prefer Richie Rich!”
Q: Your street wear labels, Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream, mix hip-hop, skate and sci-fi styles. What inspired the looks?
A: It’s basically everything I ever wanted as a kid but couldn’t afford – and if I could have afforded it, no one was making it. When I met (Japanese Designer) Nigo, all of my dreams came to fruition, and the lines and stores are a collaboration with him. It’s all made in Japan, using high-quality fabrics. Working with Nigo is like interning for Steven Spielberg.
Q: Did you have any style icons growing up in Virginia Beach?
A: I was a kid who wore Vans and Vision Streetwear, bad T-shirts, plaid pants and weird haircuts. But I admired Rakim. He was the best rapper, and stylistically he was about big gold chains, classic sneakers and customized Dapper Dan threads (the clothier to old-school rappers). Billionaire Boys Club has some eighties influences – some of it reminds me of what LL (Cool J) used to wear when I was a kid. Ice Cream is more about skate culture.
Q: Who has envy-worthy style now?
A: George Clooney, Brad Pitt – and Robert Redford has always had good style. Fashion has to reflect who you are, what you feel at the moment, and where you’re going. It doesn’t have to be right, doesn’t have to be loud. Just has to be you.
Q: Which labels do you gravitate to?
A: I like different pieces from Louis Vuitton, Lanvin and Purple Label from Ralph Lauren – that fits me perfectly. I like Hermes bags: I’ve got four vintage Haut a Courroies, which is the bag made before the Birkin. I have one in purple baby croc with me today. I throw my laptop and all my things in there when I’m heading to the studio. I’m not precious with them.
Q: Do you ever buy clothes for a woman?
A: I wouldn’t buy a girl clothes to impress her. As a gift for my girl, flats and bags are good options. Balenciaga is dope: you could never go wrong with one of his bags.
Q: And what is it about flats that turns you on?
A: I love Lanvin flats. There’s something so sexy about them. I like it when girls leave them on in those unexpected moments.
Q: Getting into bed with Louis Vuitton – first for an eyewear line, now jewelry – is also kind of unexpected. How did that happen?
A: Marc Jacobs brought me in to do sunglasses with Nigo, and now we’re working on jewlery. It’s a huge collection, mostly women’s styles, using gold, diamonds, sapphires and rubies. There are ethnic, art deco and aristocratic influences – it’s pretty sick. We even created a different LV logo for it.
Q: For a while you were sporting mega-chain necklaces over Ts and sweatshirts. Is that still hip?
A: That was an ode to an old hip-hop era. I’m more subtle now. I don’t like ice, and I don’t like Bling, I just like jewelry – beautiful stones and incredible settings. I’m not a loud or look-at-me individual. And even when it seemed like I was, it was more a sence of artistic expression.
Q: If your house was burning, what jewelry would you try to save?
A: If it’s burning. I’m not meant to have it. Besides, it’s all insured. Jacob (the jeweler) and Lorraine Schwartz have done great work for me.
Q: Is it still cool to flash boxer shorts above the raistline of your jeans?
A: I never knew that was cool. Naturally, if your pants are sagging, shorts may show a bit, but it was never the intention. It’s not for me.
Q: Plus, you’re a little older, more sophisticated. Where do you call home these days, and what’s your decorating ethos like?
A: I live in Miami mostly. I like free-flowing forms and a lot of windows. I prefer monotone spaces in which the art and the plants inject the color and the life. I’ve got a lot of pieces by (New Jersey artist) KAWS. He’s incredible. He appropriates characters from cartoons, advertising-you name it.
Q: Are you exited by home design as you are by fashion?
A: Actually, I’m designing a line of furniture. It might be ready in time for a debut at Art Basel in Switzerland in June. My fabricators are the ones (industrial designer) Marc Newson works with. I’ve aligned myself with the best of the best. I get to work with kings.
Q: How much time do you have for romance?
A: I have no social life, but it’s worth it. There’s no creativity in partying-not for me.