Pharrell Williams received the 2015 Fashion Icon Award this week at the CFDA Fashion Awards. After a spontaneous, heartfelt introduction from Kanye West – who praised Pharrell as his “style icon” – the producer graced the stage, heart beating “10,000 miles per hour,” to outline the source of his style inspiration: his “dreamland.”
The fashion-forward Pharrell – whose most iconic fashion moment could be the “Arby’s hat” Grammy incident – has recently collaborated on designs with Adidas (the “Supercolor” sneakers) and Timberland (the “BBC Bee Line” boots), among other companies.
A portion of Pharrell’s acceptance speech is available to view in the above clip. “Since I was a little boy, I lived in my head,” he says. “There were no rules, just a dreamland. ‘What if?’ land. It’s the first step when you don’t have means. The second step comes naturally. It’s whenever someone encourages you for being different. They also free you from the ubiquitous nature of the matrix of opinions.
“What makes us different is what makes us special, and that’s OK,” he added. “You see, I’m not a style icon – I’m just inspired. I’m ‘other,’ and I’m OK with that. Someone’s gotta do it.” He ends with a shout-out to his “genius assistant, Cactus,” whom he tells, “Listen to your instincts and the people who see the quality in your differences because you, too, might just make a difference.”
After joking that he planned to keep his introduction brief, West praised the recipient, noting, “There would be no me, no A$AP [Rocky], without Pharrell.” The video contains an edited version of the rapper’s speech, but as The Cut (via Pigeons and Planes) noted, West called himself “the angrier version of Pharrell” and labeled Pharrell “the nicer version of Obama.” He also reportedly rapped the first verse of his song “New Slaves.”
“That rap wasn’t written from a good place,” he said of the Yeezus standout. “That rap was written from an extremely frustrated place. There’s a gross misconception. . . that somehow, especially in this room, takes away the idea that there’s any ideas. Adidas gave us both an opportunity because they gave us celebrity deals. But the opportunity to create just a little bit more, just to think a little bit more. It is very difficult to break perception.”