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Pharrell Defended Terry Richardson at the CFDAs

Pharrell Williams.
Pharrell Williams.

Last night, fashion’s resident oddball Pharrell Williams showed up to accept the Fashion Icon Award at the CFDAs decked out in faded blue jeans, a newsboy cap, and Chanel belt. “Different is the ultimate asset,” he said in his acceptance speech, which included a long-winded account of his wide-ranging inspirations (from Ralph Lauren to Comme des Garçons), a defense of Terry Richardson, and a contrarian conclusion: “I am not a style icon. I’m just inspired. I am other, and I’m okay with that. Someone’s got to do it.” Below, the highlights from his speech.

On the importance of daydreaming:

Since I was a little boy, I lived in my head. There were no rules, just a dreamland. “What if” land. It’s the first step when you don’t have the means. The second step comes naturally: It’s when someone encourages you for being different. They also free you from the ubiquitous matrix of opinions.

On not fitting in as a kid:

I didn’t fit in because my lovely and incredible parents could not afford for me to. I had to get used to sticking out, and that’s how I learned to defend myself from people who would often ridicule my differences. It hurt a lot, but as time went on, I realized I didn’t want to be part of the camouflage.

On DIY style:

Jordans are incredible, but they were out of my price range. Vans and Chuck Taylors were affordable, and most importantly, they were the perfect canvas for do-it-yourself. DIY got me through high school.

On Terry Richardson:

Around the time, Tom Ford, famous guy, was still at Gucci, I bought a caramel-colored leather biker jacket because it reminded me of Star Wars … I wore that jacket for N*E*R*D’s first album packaging shoot, shot by the barely known at the time but talented Terry Richardson. With my clothes on. He’s genius, I’m sorry.

On Comme des Garçons:

The first time I was introduced to Comme des Garçons, I went raving about it to my big sister, who ironically worked with them through her agency, House and Holme. The next thing I knew she got me that jacket, and when I went to the shop, it happened again — I lost my mind by the genius and freedom. Rei Kawakubo designed free and untethered by the matrix of trends. 

On American style:

No one has better style than the American people. Why? Because they’re the real thing, they live it every day. I could never be as cool as them, but I’m happy to take notice.

Pharrell Defended Terry Richardson at the CFDAs