Pharrell Williams Teases Upcoming Chanel Streetwear Collaboration
His "sort of unisex" line and short film will debut Thursday — featuring plenty of hoodies and man bags.
Pharrell Williams will release his streetwear-inspired, "sort of unisex" collection for Chanel on Thursday. It will debut at the opening of the French house's boutique in Seoul, South Korea, and at selected stores worldwide on April 4.
The Chanel ambassador teased his upcoming co-designed capsule over the weekend through clips from a short film for the brand. Called Chanel-Pharrell; the ready-to-wear and accessories collection includes robes, tees, sneakers, costume jewelry and sunglasses (Williams calls himself a "big accessories guy"). One long-sleeved tee, in eight colors, has a story printed on the back about a bet Williams made about collaborating with Chanel.
Williams on Friday posted a short clip of the film, with a woman speaking French on an old TV set before flashing to an image of Williams with light radiating from his mouth. “Hard to believe this all started with writing it on my shoes in 2010,” he wrote.
The multihyphenate followed that up over the weekend with a longer, jungle-set clip in which Williams joins a gang of motorcycle riders all sporting his colorful hoodies. The video focuses on streetwear with embroidered sweatshirts, rhinestone jewelry, tees, shoulder bags and plenty of interlocking Cs. “And of course, Karl [Lagerfeld] named the collection,” the musician added.
Lagerfeld, who died in February, was creative director of Chanel for more than 30 years (he was succeeded by Virginie Viard). Under Lagerfeld’s tenure, Williams starred in a Chanel film carrying the Gabrielle handbag — the brand’s first bag advertisement starring a man — along with Kristen Stewart and Cara Delevingne.
"The main thing is that this capsule is sort of unisex, so already that’s a new approach. I’ve been wearing Chanel’s women’s clothes for years now, but being able to make this capsule unisex gives more people access," Williams told Women's Wear Daily.
Though Chanel has not marketed a men’s line, Williams has long advocated for gender-fluid styles. He is credited with helping reinvent menswear on the Hollywood red carpet by wearing pieces like Chanel necklaces to the Oscars in 2017. The “Happy” singer sported guyliner during the Chanel show at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art in December. The next month, Chanel introduced a mini collection of men's makeup to boutiques in the U.S., again suggesting a possible unisex or menswear line in the future.
“This campaign and this film are about a capsule collection, something that they’ve never done in the history of the brand. They do that not with a designer, but with a musician with ambition and dreams," Williams said in behind-the-scenes footage obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
“Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel didn’t see partitions. And it’s interesting, because neither did the brand when it came to giving me a shot. They didn’t see partitions. But they’re not afraid of these things. Just like she wasn’t afraid. There doesn't need to be boundaries. As long as you can hold on to the heritage, and continue to push it, like Karl always does, we don’t need walls — we need bridges," Williams added.
He previously collaborated with Chanel and his Adidas Originals project called the Hu line, launched in 2016. Williams customized 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 WWD. Luxe streetwear has been on the rise, with Virgil Abloh's Off-White being named the hottest fashion brand in the world.
Williams launched his own upscale streetwear brands, Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream in 2005, adding Biliionaire 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. And he has partnered with Moncler, Uniqlo, Louis Vuitton and other companies on collaborations in the past.
The full Chanel-Pharrell video, partially inspired by the Japanese animation film Akira, will debut Thursday online. Williams said he was influenced by the custom scooters of Tokyo and called Japan his "second home."