GQ/Micaiah Carter Pharrell Williams

Pharrell Talks New Masculinity, ‘Blurred Lines,’ & Style Evolution

Pharrell continues to push boundaries.

Before Young Thug and Lil Uzi Vert, the pop culture icon was bending the rules in fashion. Skateboard P covers GQ‘s New Masculinity issue in a series of head-turning looks including a draping yellow gown by 1 Moncler Pierpaolo Piccioli, which he personally selected for the cover. “Because I am my most comfortable self when I’m being a character,” he says.

In the Micaiah Carter-photographed images, the trendsetter also shows off his drip in a $9,200 Chanel houndstooth coat, green leather Salvatore Ferragamo suit, Marni cheetah-print coat, and his own Chanel Pharrell loafers.

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In the interview, the 46-year-old visionary discusses his ever-evolving style and evolution as an artist, along with gender and sexual identity in 2019.

“Blurred Lines,” his 2013 collaboration with Robin Thicke, stirred controversy for its “rapey” lyrics, which he admits was an eye-opening moment. “I think ‘Blurred Lines’ opened me up. I didn’t get it at first,” he says. “And then I realized that there are men who use that same language when taking advantage of a woman, and it doesn’t matter that that’s not my behavior. Or the way I think about things. It just matters how it affects women. And I was like, Got it. I get it. Cool. My mind opened up to what was actually being said in the song and how it could make someone feel.”

Pharrell, whose Something in the Water festival will return to Virginia Beach on April 24-26, also opens up about his gender-fluid style, the power of the internet, and politics. Read highlights from the November issue of GQ below.

Pharrell Williams

On the “new 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 nonbinary effect when it comes to gender.”

On his past music: “Advertisements that objectify women. Song content. Some of my old songs, I would never write or sing today. I get embarrassed by some of that stuff. It just took a lot of time and growth to get to that place.”

On his gender-fluid style: “It started with the ‘I can pull that off’ thing. I wore a lot of Chanel, and I wore tons of Céline. Like, I got all the O.G. Céline. Because they were clothes I could fit in. When you listen to yourself and you’re comfortable in who you are, you wear what you feel like fits and looks right on you. … And I do have my lines. Like, I can’t wear no skirt. Nor am I interested in wearing a blouse. That’s not my deal. But things that are made for women that I feel will look good on me—that I like—I will wear.”

Pharrell Williams

On writing “Happy”: “That made me cry. It literally made me cry. Like, I was on the ‘Oprah’ show for my birthday, and she showed me a video of people around the world singing that song, and that shit fucked me up. Bad. I was never the same. So I don’t beat on my chest. I haven’t been the same since any of that music.”

On the impact of the internet: “This is gonna sound really crazy, and there’s so many things wrong with what I’m about to say, but just because I need to say it, I’m gonna say it: If the internet were around, the Declaration of Independence would’ve never read that way.”

On the 2020 presidential election: “I feel like…it’s time for a real true change in ourselves. And it’s less about who is going into office. It’s more about who is going into the voting booths. But the reality is that people don’t know that we are in the middle of spiritual warfare. And they’re massively distracted.”