But first, let’s focus on the collection, which melds the ethos of street art and a gender-fluid approach to dressing; a nod to Pharrell’s personal style. In an interview with WWD, he talks about the times when he started wearing Chanel: “Gender fluidity and these things addressing gender weren’t as loud and pronounced as they are now. I was just doing it because it was just the way I felt.”
Standout pieces include block-colour T-shirts, oversized hoodies, rhinestone costume jewellery as well as circular sunglasses. The house iconic symbols like the CC, N°5 and Coco are given the Pharrell treatment; reimagined in his own handwriting and embroidered onto pieces.
But our favourite piece from the collection is also the item that has the most personal connection with Pharrell—a long-sleeved shirt that on the back, recounts the tale of a bet that he made with a buddy of his that he would one day be working with Chanel.
While it’s easy to pencil this as another luxury brand jumping on the streetwear bandwagon, it’s massive in more ways than just being their first collaboration—it is also the first time that the historic French Maison has openly embraced menswear and is perhaps a sign of bigger plans brewing in that realm.
Chanel has presented menswear down its runway before but not a category that the house has openly embraced. It went as far as to send out a press release to shut down rumours that Hedi Slimane would be heading its menswear collection. But men have always been attracted to the mystique of Chanel. Case in point, more men know about Chanel than they do Raf Simons. That is not a slight on Simons, who is a menswear savant, but rather a testament to the clout that Chanel has.
Founder, Coco Chanel, used to draw on menswear for inspiration for her pieces, so it’s not completely farfetched that men are drawn to the spirit of the house. “They’re not afraid of these things. Just like [Coco Chanel] wasn’t afraid. There don’t need to be boundaries,” Pharrell says. “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.”
And in this era of hunting down rare grails and the rise of gender-fluid dressing, men finding Chanel pieces in their size just makes that hunt even sweeter. This collaboration between Pharrell and Chanel is ticking all the right boxes and officially putting out menswear ready-to-wear for the first time. We are not saying that Chanel definitely has plans for menswear in the future, but this collection is enough to have us dreaming, and writing, about it.