I’m sitting in Holt Renfrew’s press suite with Pharrell Williams, who’s in town to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his street-wear clothing label, Billionaire Boys Club, and the launch of an in-store pop-up shop at the store’s Yorkdale location (which will also sell Billionaire Girls Club). Despite the flickering tuberose Diptyque candles, the scent of processed cheese hangs over the room. Set up for our munching pleasure at Williams’ request are two overflowing bowls of nacho chips, a can of barbecue Pringles and ample amounts of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers and Red Bull. I might feel like I’m backstage at a hip-hop show (lurking entourage and all), but I quickly discover that Williams is all business—and he’s not interested in discussing his affinity for Sweet Chili Heat Doritos.
Wearing dark sunglasses, a wide-brimmed fedora (allegedly requested from the costume department of Gangster Squad), plaid pants, a BBC sweatshirt and Céline snakeskin slip-ons, he’s surprisingly soft-spoken … except when it comes to fashion. “Pretty fly though, right?” he winks after catching me casting lustful eyes at his kicks. Flipping through the pages of Pharrell: Places and Spaces I’ve Been, last year’s Rizzoli retrospective on the musician-slash-producer-slash-designer’s prolific, collaborative career—summer hits “Get Lucky” and “Blurred Lines” are but his latest high-profile productions—I ask with whom he’d like to pair up next. “I really love Céline,” Williams says. (I should have guessed.) “When you collaborate with people it’s almost like a crash course on their minds and skill set,” he enthuses, sipping a Red Bull. “It allows me to learn and get better. Phoebe Philo is another brilliant mind who has chosen to take her lifestyle and make that the muse of her work. She’s the king right now. Does Holt Renfrew sell Céline?” Lucky for him, it does.