Pharrell Williams Teaches Us “The New Masculinity” On Cover Of GQ
Grammy award-winning entertainer, Pharrell Williams is the cover star of the latest edition of GQ Magazine dubbed “The new Masculinity” issue. The New Masculinity issue is an exploration of the ways that traditional notions of masculinity are being challenged, overturned, and evolved.
On the cover, the “Happy” crooner talks about masculinity, working through thorny ideas about the patriarchy, about the politics of gender and sexual identity in 2019 and beyond, about past missteps and his personal evolution.
GQ in the issue describes Pharrell as:
“Pharrell has been an agent of change his whole career. When he broke into the public consciousness, about 20 years ago, as a producer and then as the frontman of N.E.R.D., he looked different from everyone else in hip-hop, wearing slimmer jeans, more fitted skate tees, and mesh trucker hats. That might not sound earth-shattering now, but a whole generation of young African American misfits will tell you that Pharrell Williams was the first time they saw themselves in pop culture.”
Here are excerpts of Pharell’s interview:
On his definition of Masculinity
“I think the truest definition of masculinity is the essence of you that understands and respects that which isn’t masculine. If you ask me, when we talk about masculinity, it’s also very racial, this conversation. Because the dominant force on this planet right now is the older straight white male. And there’s a particular portion of them that senses a tanning effect. They sense a feminizing effect. They sense a non binary effect when it comes to gender.”
On opening an art exhibition in Paris, meeting with Chanel rather than just focusing on music
“I like to keep things separate. Because I don’t want to get tired of myself. It’s cool to work in different disciplines, but it’s annoying to come off like an arrogant Swiss Army knife. I like to keep things separate so that there’s still that element of surprise. I think that’s important when it comes to any kind of art: the element of Wait, what? Rather than I did this, and that, and this, and that…”
On how the 46-year-old’s fashion has evolved over the years:
“As he created hit after hit, Pharrell’s wardrobe continued to morph. He special-ordered a custom-made Hermès Birkin bag in inky purple crocodile and, in 2007, began wearing it everywhere. He started wearing Chanel clothes and jewelry, as well as designs by cultish Céline creative director Phoebe Philo.
Pharrell’s wardrobe inspired subtle shifts in the culture around him—and reflected shifts going on inside him too. This deep connection between his evolving fashion sensibility and his evolving sense of self—and the never-ending stream of miraculous pop music he created all the while—has made him an icon to those of us here at GQ who believe style is about more than just clothes.”
On being respectful:
“Oh, I started bowing almost 20 years ago, when I met Nigo. Because up until meeting him, my greatest references—the guys that garnered the most respect—were the guys with the big Bentleys. My big brother Jay. Big brother Puff. They were not quiet about being successful. They had created this energy of what success could look like for us as African American men. We saw that in Virginia and looked up to that. Like, wow. First of all, it’s possible. Second of all, this is the way you’ve gotta do it. And they had a lot of music to back it up.”
To read full interview, CLICK HERE
Photographs by Micaiah Carter
Styled by Mobolaji Dawodu
Grooming by Johnny “Cake” Castellanos
Set design by David Browne
Produced by Connect the Dots