Pharell Williams x Tiffany & Co. sunglasses accused of copying antiques

Designer Nigo recently presented his debut collection for French fashion house Kenzo and the runway looks weren’t the only ones making headlines. Among those watching from the front row was singer and songwriter Pharell Williams who was spotted in a pair of Tiffany & Co sunglasses. The singer hinted at a Pharell Williams x Tiffany & Co. collaboration but remained mute on other details as he showed his support for Nigo and his debut. So how did a pair of glasses create such a stir in the media, let’s break it down.

Image: Courtesy of tomy_visual Instagram

Williams is notoriously known for his extravagant taste in accessories and was seen wearing a pair of glasses from luxury jewelry brand Tiffany & Co. The brand confirmed this when they took to Instagram and posted a photo of the “happy” hitmaker wearing the sunglasses. describing them as “tailor-made”. They captioned the photo with “double take” and online viewers complied. People took to the comments section to point out the familiarities between the sunglasses and a set of rare and beautiful Mughal glasses auctioned last year.

Pharell Williams wearing Tiffany & Co. sunglasses at the Kenzo fashion show
Image: Courtesy of Tiffany and Co. Instagram

Sotheby’s and old Mughal glasses

Sotheby’s, the former auction house, offered a pair of 17th century Mughal glasses at auction in October 2021. One of the original glasses features emerald teardrop lenses while the other has rounder lenses carved in diamond. It is believed that the couple originally belonged to India’s Mughal royal family and had their fair share of cultural significance. The glasses are believed to have been designed to heal the wearer, provide enlightenment and ward off evil. They are known to be associated with the famous Emperor Shah Jahan.

Not only was the Pharell Williams x Tiffany & Co. collaboration called for the striking resemblance, but fine jewelry aficionados were quick to notice that there seemed to be no mention of Mughal antiquity or the inspiration due during brand communications. While one user commented “‘Custom designed’ or custom copied?? 🧐”. Another user, Annabel Davidson, wrote “I think @tiffanyandco made a mistake by not referencing the pair so many of us saw last year” on a message she posted on her personal account.

The incident has been called cultural appropriation, what stands out most is the lack of acknowledgment of the original inspiration behind their creation. It is not uncommon for history and its artifacts to have designs modeled after them. However, it’s a rather unlikely faux pas not to mention the antiquity that the world has already seen a year ago on the news. These spectacular shows have become a new entry in the long run and need to be discussed about cultural appropriation as people continue to take notice.

Hero image: Courtesy of Tiffany and Co. Instagram. Featured image: Courtesy Instagram

About Oscar L. Smith

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