Pharrell Williams to Be Honored at 71st Annual Parsons Benefit

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Pharrell Williams

He will be one of four honorees recognized for their contributions to fashion, entrepreneurship and sustainability. Previous honorees include Rihanna, Sarah Jessica Parker and fashion designers Donna Karan and Jason Wu.

The 71st Annual Parsons Benefit, hosted by The New School, is set to honor Pharrell Williams on May 20 at Pier Sixty in New York.

For his decades-long contributions as a music producer, fashion designer, philanthropist and more, Williams will receive the Parsons Table Award, as will Julie Wainwright, founder and CEO of The RealReal luxury consignment business, and Katrina Lake, founder and CEO of online personal styling service Stitch Fix. The event will also honor Michael Preysman, founder and CEO of direct-to-consumer fashion retailer Everlane, with the Frank Alvah Parsons Award.

"We are thrilled to be honoring Pharrell for his substantial contributions to the music and fashion industries and The RealReal, Stitch Fix, and Everlane for their unwavering commitment to innovation and sustainability in fashion," Joel Towers, executive dean of Parsons School of Design, said Wednesday in a statement. "Parsons was founded upon the idea that design can change the world, and these exceptional honorees are reimagining the creative and commercial landscape in a way that will positively impact the industry for years to come."

Along those lines, Williams’ collaboration on a "sort of unisex" streetwear-inspired collection for Chanel, set to debut April 4, was announced earlier this week. The collection, named Chanel-Pharrell, consists of ready-to-wear and accessories including robes, tees, sneakers, costume jewelry and sunglasses.

Williams previously collaborated with Chanel and his Adidas Originals project called the Hu line, launched in 2016, by customizing an Adidas Hu NMD sneaker for the fashion house. "The success of that one sneaker probably opened the door for the team to reach back out to me and offer me this amazing opportunity to create this capsule collection," Williams told Women's Wear Daily.

Williams launched his own upscale streetwear brands, Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream in 2005, adding Billionaire Girls Club to the mix in 2013. He is also a partner and creative director at Bionic Yarn, a company that creates raw materials from recycled plastics recovered from the oceans and waterways that are converted into clothing and other products. In the past, he has partnered with Moncler, Uniqlo, Louis Vuitton and other companies on collaborations.

In 2008, Williams founded his From One Hand to AnOTHER foundation to provide predominantly at-risk and low-income elementary and middle school students access to summer camps focused on technology, engineering, arts, mathematics and motivation free of charge. Last year, Williams released the Netflix Original series Brainchild with his producing partner Mimi Valdes and is currently working with Kenya Barris on a stage musical inspired by the Juneteenth Independence Day that celebrates the final day of slavery in the U.S. 

The Parsons Benefit will raise funds for students to pursue studies in art, design, liberal arts, music, technology and social innovation.