Pharrell Talks Art, Diamonds And Chanel

In that order.

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As much as Chanel is all about the latest fashion trends, the French fashion house is also heavily invested in the arts. The luxury behemoth’s Mademoiselle Privé exhibition, which celebrates the three pillars (haute couture, high jewellery and Chanel No. 5) closest to founder Gabrielle Chanel’s heart, is now at its third stop in Hong Kong — after the Saatchi Gallery in London and the D Museum in Seoul.

Offering a totally different sensorial experience, this instalment introduces new elements such as the Red Garden, an urban landscape inspired by an abstract textile pattern created by Russian artist Llia Zdanevitch for Gabrielle Chanel. 

The garden space houses two commissioned artworks by Hong Kong artist SK Lam’s camellia-shaped paper lantern and visual artist Anothermountainman’s video of dropping pearls (sparked by a famous Gabrielle Chanel incident in which her strand of pearls broke at a dinner party and the pearls scattered onto the floor). 

There will also be a series of podcasts by famous Hong Kong personalities including fashion columnist Wyman Wong, influencer Hilary Tsui (better known as Eason Chen’s wife) and blogger Kevin Ma, examining the theme of creation.

The series of classic photo-booth portraits from the earlier stops in London and Seoul sees new additions with French actress Alma Jodorowsky and Pharrell Williams (pictured above, with his wife Helen Lasichanh) joining the lineup. 

Pharrell tells us what he really thought of Gabrielle Chanel, the house of Chanel, as well as the Mademoiselle Privé exhibition.

How would you sum up the Mademoiselle Privé exhibition in Hong Kong?

I think it’s amazing that they have managed to curate in a way that it doesn’t feel overwhelming and overbearing. Every thing about it sparks the imagination. For every detail and everything that you’re seeing, there’s this really condensed information that you’re getting that makes you go ‘wow, oh really’. 

It is really interesting to see how this woman’s mind was so meticulous about details and what informed those details. Everything is back to this vivid information just as it is vivid in its aesthetic. That’s just been enlightening.

What were the highlights to you, personally?

I just liked it all. You couldn’t believe that that was what this was the entire time. So many other brands have an aesthetic property to it but what’s behind this brand is really next-level. There’s so much symbolism to Gabrielle Chanel. 

Speaking of next-level, how do you continually push yourself upwards?

We have to challenge not only others but also yourself or else you’ll get too comfortable and you’ll experiment less. Once you experiment less, then you’re bound to repeat yourself. 

We get into spirited debates cos we want to challenge ourselves and others to experiment... to continue to introduce new stuff. It’s not about being right but about getting it right. 

You were part of the haute joaillerie curate. What was that about?

It was very simple. There was a photo booth where we could just pick stuff out and have our portrait taken. In which I wore a feather brooch. Feathers for me are two-fold; they exist in light and the weight is light. I also had on a comet brooch that was just beautiful. It spoke to me because that’s the stuff that is out in space. 

You don’t have a habit of working with many brands but you’ve been extremely close to Chanel. 

They treat me like family. Always encouraging me, supporting me and pushing me forward with new opportunities. 

So what are the privileges of being ‘family’? 

I don’t know if I’m allowed to share those… Their unwavering support of my career and education in fashion, to be able to earn as I learn has been second to none.

The Chanel Mademoiselle Privé exhibition runs till 10 February at PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong. 

For more fashion, head here. Or check out 13 Sale Items To Add To Your Work Wardrobe NOW or 8 Adorable Things To Wear And Carry This Chinese New Year.

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