Musician and style aficionado Pharrell Williams, apparently tired of Mountie culture, traded his signature Smokey the Bear chapeau for a Native American headdress on the cover of Elle UK.
The cover photo has incited anger and disappointment — and prompted the “Happy” singer to apologize.
“I respect and honor every kind of race, background and culture. I am genuinely sorry,” he said Wednesday morning through his publicist.
It’s unclear what prompted Pharrell’s fashion change, but in a promotional blurb on the Elle UK site, it appears the impetus might have come from the magazine’s staff:
“[W]e persuaded Elle style award winner Pharrell to trade his Vivienne Westwood mountie hat for a native American feather headdress in his best ever shoot.”
That passage appears to have been scrubbed from Elle’s website today.
The potential perils of this “fashion” choice seem obvious. Recently, Oklahoma’s first daughter Christina Fallin — a would-be rock star herself — got in trouble for similar headwear.
The Elle UK Facebook page has been flooded with negative comments highlighting how disrespectful it is to wear Native American headdress if you do not happen to not be an actual Indian chief.
“To all those who say ‘I don’t see the big deal, he respects native people.’ No..” wrote Facebook user Taylor Red Fox Smith. “Thats just ignorance. NOT EVEN A REGULAR NATIVE WOULD DARE PUT THIS ON UNLESS THEY EARNED EVERY FEATHER IN WHAT IS WORN BY ONLY A CHIEF. Please if ur not native, just stop.”
On Twitter, commentary has taken off with #NotHappy hashtag, a sardonic reference to Pharrell’s mega-hit, “Happy.”