Pharrell Wants to Convince You to Buy a Man Bag
By Megan Gustashaw.
From XL ten-gallon hats to loud printed jeans, Pharrell has a way of giving even the most outlandish style statements mass appeal. But can he convince men to buy into the cross-body bag trend? That was the idea when the music mogul was cast to appear alongside Kristen Stewart, Cara Delevingne, and Caroline de Maigret in a campaign for Chanel’s new Gabrielle bag—a gender-fluid first for the 108-year-old French brand.
Karl Lagerfeld told WWD the Gabrielle is meant to be worn in “many different circumstances”, clarifying that “it’s not very feminine in the sense of being chichi”. Lagerfeld also noted to WWD that the bag’s squared-off shape was inspired by virtual reality goggles, which are used by both men and women. Additionally, in Chanel’s Fall 2017 runway show (which, like a birdcall to teenage boys everywhere, featured an actual flame-bursting rocket ship) male models wore the Gabrielle on the runway.
Pharrell, for his part, makes a convincing enough case for men buying the handbag, which retails for $3,600 in calfskin, though the crocodile version he wears in the campaign will presumably go for several times that amount. “When I first started wearing it I didn’t have anything in it. I was just so excited to have it,” he said. “But now I use it to carry my phone, and—you know—essential personal things.” In other words, the Gabrielle might be made out of exotic reptile skin and finished with fancy chain straps but it's still, you know, just a bag.
Pharrell has been known to wear Chanel chain necklaces—actually, custom-made replicas of Chanel necklaces using real gemstones—and tweed "ladies who lunch" jackets in his off-duty time. His first introduction to Chanel was through rapper Notorious B.I.G. “I was like a nerdy little black kid on a skateboard. So looking at high-end fashion was something that I really didn’t understand in the very beginning,” he told WWD. “And then I realized, slowly but surely, man, this is amazing. And although there’s mostly the perception that it’s for women, I just started to see, OK, as a man I can wear some of this. So I would wear sunglasses here, or a jacket there.”
Pharrell's natural, casual approach to wearing women's clothing—and Chanel's newfound encouragement of it—is arguably one big drop in the bucket for the man purse trend (and unisex fashion in general), but the idea of regular, non-fashion industry guys will giving up their backpacks and oversized messenger bags in the name of fashion still feels like a stretch. Then again, forty years ago guys were wearing platform boots and silk blouses so, perhaps a return to swanky, gender-free style isn't so farfetched.
This story originally appeared on GQ.
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