Thursday, Dec 01, 2022

Pharrell Williams wears Mughal-era inspired diamond sunglasses; triggers cultural appropriation row

People were not impressed. "‘Custom-designed’ or custom-copied?" one person asked on social media.

Pharrell Williams, Pharrell Williams news, Pharrell Williams cultural appropriation, Pharrell Williams sunglasses, Pharrell Williams sunglass collaboration, Pharrell Williams Mughal-era sunglasses, Pharrell Williams Tiffany & Co., indian express news"It’s about seeing things differently," the musician captioned the photo. (Source: Instagram/@pharrell)

Cultural appropriation in the fashion world is much talked about globally — from celebrities donning various hairstyles that are associated with different cultures, to wearing certain makeup that makes them look like they belong to a different ethnicity.

Time and again, cultural appropriation has been called out and efforts have been made to make people understand why it is problematic.

Mostly, it has been understood that cultural appropriation is the result of ignorance: when someone is not aware of the social ramifications of their actions, or simply not interested in learning about the origin of a particular hairstyle, makeup, piece of clothing or even an accessory.

The Pharrell x Tiffany sunglass collaboration is a recent example of cultural appropriation in the fashion world, which has been called out by fashion watchdog Diet Prada. Taking to Instagram, it pointed out that there is a likeness to rapper and producer Pharrell Williams‘ — who has collaborated with American jewellery company Tiffany & Co — “bejewelled sunglasses” to “a set of extraordinarily rare Mughal spectacles”.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Diet Prada ™ (@diet_prada)

While making an appearance for Japanese fashion designer Nigo’s debut collection for French luxury fashion house Kenzo, Williams announced the collaboration, telling WWD: “Tiffany and I are engaged. I can’t give it all away now. I don’t want to go too much into detail, okay, because we’re here today to celebrate my brother Nigo.”

But Diet Prada called out the musician — saying the “pair of glittering diamond and emerald sunglasses” are in fact an almost-exact replica of 17th century Mughal sunglasses that were put up for auction by Sotheby’s last year.


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A post shared by Sotheby’s (@sothebys)

On Instagram, Tiffany shared the picture of the rapper wearing the glasses, and wrote in the caption, “Double take. @Pharrell attended Nigo’s Kenzo show in Paris wearing a pair of custom-designed Tiffany & Co. sunglasses in 18k gold with 61 round brilliant diamonds of over 25 total carats and two emerald-cut emeralds. #TiffanyAndCo”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Tiffany & Co. (@tiffanyandco)

People were not impressed. They took to the comment section to write their thoughts. “‘Custom-designed’ or custom-copied?” one person asked.

“Custom? Where’s the credit to Mughal era -17th century India?” another commented. Someone else wrote, “Not even an anecdote on the designs – actual 19th century and Mughal inspiration? Nor anything about the original’s cultural significance…”

For the uninitiated, the two pairs of bejewelled Mughal-era spectacles set with diamond and emerald lenses were auctioned in October last year. Auction house Sotheby’s had said the glasses were commissioned by an unknown 17th-century prince. According to a Reuters report, while one pair, named ‘Gate of Paradise‘, features emerald lenses set in diamond-mounted frames, the second, ‘Halo of Light‘, has diamond lenses set in diamond-mounted frames. The lenses are from the 17th century and the frames from the 19th century.


On social media, netizens were irked by the fact that there was absolutely no mention or an acknowledgement of the inspiration behind the designs from neither Tiffany nor Williams.

“Definitely not ok! Stop the copying please!” a user wrote.

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First published on: 27-01-2022 at 08:50:53 pm
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