While Pharrell Williams’ gigantic brown Grammys hat might have seemed at best ridiculous—and at worst, inspired by Arby's—it turns out it actually has a pretty solid hip-hop history. As Williams told The Hollywood Reporter, the hat was designed by Vivienne Westwood back in the '80s, when it was featured prominently in the video for Malcolm McLaren’s “Buffalo Girls.” Released in 1982, McLaren’s song with the World’s Famous Supreme Team is one of hip-hop’s early classics, with the song’s origins coming from an old standard, 1844's “Buffalo Gals,” by blackface minstrel singer John “Cool White” Hodges. McLaren’s version was later sampled in Neneh Cherry’s 1988 hit “Buffalo Stance.” The hat originally appeared in Westwood’s ‘82/’83 collection, and has several names, including the “Buffalo Hat,” the “Mountain Hat,” and “the Jelly Mould Hat.”
While Williams’ hat isn’t vintage—he bought a new copy at Westwood’s World’s End store a couple of years ago for £95—he acknowledges it would have been “really stylin’,” if he’d been sporting “one from the ‘80s.” Knowing the nature of celebrity gifting these days, it’s fair to imagine that the process of getting him an actual vintage model is at least in the works by now, if not already a fait accompli.
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