What did Pharrell Williams have on his head at the Chanel Métiers d’Art show in Paris on Tuesday? Because it sure looks as if the surprise celebrity guest model was wearing a Chanel yarmulke.
The musician walked the runway in a long dark blue version of Chanel’s signature tweed jacket, a black shirt, and matching jeans, with strings of Chanel pearls draped around his neck, silver gloves in (not on) his hand, white shoes, and a hat markedly smaller than the ones he typically wears. The golden, layered, and crumpled-looking headpiece clung to the crown of his head like a yarmulke — the small, round headpiece Jewish men wear. With Hanukkah around the corner, it wouldn’t be that crazy for a yarmulke to hit the runway (it actually kind of looked like a bejeweled latke!), but Williams has never publicly identified as Jewish; in 2013, he told British GQ Style that he was a “Universalist.”
According to Vogue, “there’s no word yet on whether the high-fashion headpiece will be heading to production or not.”
If this were a religious reference, it wouldn’t be the first time Chanel ventured into cultural territory. In multiple Chanel shows throughout 2013 and 2014, models wore feathered headdresses, and some were dressed like cowboys. Native American activists were not pleased. However, Chanel told Daily Mail, “The Chanel-Dallas Métiers d’Art 2013/2014 collection is a celebration of the beauty of Texas. Native Americans are an integral part of Texas’s rich history and culture, and the feather headdress, a symbol of strength and bravery, is one of the most visually stunning examples of the creativity and craftsmanship they possessed.”
Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel’s 2015/16 Cruise Collection drew inspiration from Korean culture, from the shapes and colors of the dresses to the patterns of the pants to the thick braids wrapped around the models’ heads, with sticks and clips holding the braids in place. The eye and brow liner definitely skewed Korean as well.
But Chanel’s cultural and religious risks all started back in 1994, when Lagerfeld put Claudia Schiffer on the runway in a dress covered with what he thought was a love poem from the Indian subcontinent inspired by the Taj Mahal but was actually a passage from the Koran. Oops. Needless to say, that did not go over well. The chief executive of Chanel had to visit and apologize to the rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris.
Let’s see how people react to the stylish yarmulke… Don’t be surprised if Lagerfeld pays a visit to your temple sometime soon.