What Pharrell x Tiffany Sunglasses Say About the State of Cultural Appropriation in Fashion


Emeralds for Heaven eyeglasses

Sotheby’s

According to Sotheby’s, the glasses are made of emerald and diamond glasses, with the emeralds originating from the Muzo mines in Colombia, and the diamonds likely coming from the Golconda mines in India. Given the mechanical constraints of the time, these glasses are marvels of engineering and technique, with flat-cut, teardrop-shaped emerald lenses that weigh over twenty-seven carats. In terms of cultural significance, Sotheby’s president Edward Gibbs notes that eyeglasses have special spiritual connotations, with diamonds signifying “heavenly light” and shining stones like emeralds being considered “vehicles of astral forces” during the Mughal period. In Islamic culture, the color green symbolizes paradise, salvation and eternal life.

While it’s not out of the norm to draw inspiration from history or historical artefacts when it comes to fashion, what stands out here is Williams’ lack of recognition that his designs are, in fact, , molded to closely resemble the Mughal pair. At a time when the politics of cultural appropriation has reached fever pitch, it seems like a curious faux pas on the part of Tiffany & Co. and Williams not to cite the Emeralds for Heaven glasses as a source of inspiration.

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