Pharrell Williams, who recently released a new single titled “Lemon” featuring Rihanna, has been on a fashion collaboration tear this year. While the rapper-producer launched the Adidas Originals HU NMD and Chanel shoes at the Paris boutique Colette in November, it’s his work with the legendary Stan Smith that resonates with him on a personal level. “The [Stan Smith sneaker] serves as the perfect billboard space for all kinds of textures and to message things,” he said. The music star told Footwear News that the tennis legend, who nabbed the Lifetime Achievement Award on Nov. 28, helped usher in a series of sneaker collaborations where “the design is perfect.” Pharrell shares some exclusive secrets on what life is really like working alongside Smith.
Why are you so fond of Stan Smith, the person?
“Because Stan happens to be the person who figured out — or was part of the team who figured out — what a classic shoe design would be for decades on end.”
What’s your favorite thing about getting to know him?
“He is one of the most calm, gentle, patient people you will ever meet. He’s calm in the sense that when you talk to him, he is never really on a level 10; he always seems to be at an amazing 6.5. He is gentle with the way he talks to complete strangers and is completely open. And [he is patient] when someone takes a long time to keep up with something or they have a hard time understanding something, like myself — he was incredibly patient when explaining to me how the tennis scoring system works.”
What’s your favorite memory of working with Smith?
“Him explaining to me the U.S. Open two years in a row, and me kind of not getting it. It’s been kind of amusing, but it completely is the perfect platform to prove my point: He is calm, he’s gentle, and he’s patient.”