What's the history behind Pharrell Williams' famous hat?
Pharrell Williams' hat has virtually become a celebrity in its own right since the singer wore it to the Grammys. Now its been sold for $44,100 at a charity auction to fast food chain Arbys, but what’s the story behind this famous piece of headwear?
Pharrell Williams shows off his hat at the Grammys
Many wondered who exactly Pharrell was trying to look like when he debuted his hat at the Grammy awards in January. Actually future hat owners Arbys tweeted the singer asking for their hat back because it so resembles their logo, but actually the hat has nothing to do with fast food at all, instead it has a colourful history in hip hop and fashion.
The now famous Grammy’s hat was made by British designer Vivienne Westwood, Pharrell bought his for £95 a few years ago in her London ‘World’s End’ store, but the designer has been making the hats since 1982. Yes this hat has actually been famous since the ‘Happy’ singer was only 9 years old. It made its runway debut in Westwood’s ’82/83 collection named ‘Nostalgia of Mud’. The show focused on dark ‘mud’ colours and drew inspiration from Peruvian women. The oversized hat was designed to look like a ‘a bashed in hillbilly’s hat’ and was a continuation of her previous oversized bowler hats. So far it has been made in 12 colours in felt material, however there’s also been a straw version. When it first appeared in Westwood’s collection she couldn't decide on a name for it so it was listed as Buffalo Hat, the Mountain Hat and the Jelly Mould Hat., but it seems now that the Mountain Hat is the preferred name.
Also available in grey, Pharrell William's hat
Back in 1982 Westwood was still in partnership with former Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren and the pair ran the ‘World's End’ store together, they then briefly opened another shop in Christopher’s Place in London which they named ‘Nostalgia of Mud’ after the collection. The shop closed in 1983 and it would be the last endeavour the pair would do together.
At this time, McLaren had long moved on from punk and had instead turned his attention to the New York hip hop scene. Impressed by the music he had heard at block parties, he went on to use the inspiration to create his own album ‘Duck Rock’. On it he collaborated with The World's Famous Supreme Team, two new York DJs who were among the first DJs to introduce the art of scratching to the world. The album’s best remembered single is ‘Buffalo Gals’,the song would go on to be the basis of Neneh Cherry's 1989 hit 'Buffalo Stance' and was also sampled by Public Enemy on their song 'Brothers Gonna Work It Out'. The single’s video featured McLaren and the Rock Steady Crew and the famous Mountain Hat. McLaren is seen wearing the video through the ‘Buffalo Gals’ video as are many of the videos dancers. The hat also made some appearances in early eighties breakdancing videos.
The hat’s celebrity status then went on the decline for nearly 30 years until it found a new fan in Pharrell who brought it back to the top of the rack. It’s also still available to buy from World's End and it seemed at the Oscars that Pharrell had already invested in a new one. So now if you're wearing yours in public and your accused of looking like a mountie or a Pharrell wannabe you can let people in on this hat’s place in fashion and hip hop history.