At least at Versace, Black Lives Matter in Milan in world exclusive
Leave it to Donatella Versace to put the Black Lives Matter movement front and centre in her house’s courageous contribution to Milan Digital Fashion Week on Thursday afternoon.
Where other houses have paid lip service to BLM, and several even managed to use all-white casts, Donatella invited the great UK rapper AJ Tracey to stage a livestream performance in her video clip. And the result was easily the best moment in the inaugural four-day Milan Digital season. Both fashion wise and in terms of keeping Milan relevant in the current global zeitgeist, whose key theme is people’s empowerment.
The house used its time slot in the 43-event season to offer a cunning glimpse of its upcoming Flash Collection, which will be available in shops in August. Filmed on the set of the collection's campaign shoot, the livestream featured AJ Tracey debutting a new track in a world exclusive.
Due to the pandemic, the Camera della Moda launched Milan Digital, its first overwhelmingly online fashion season, where all but two shows are video presentations. However, Versace’s decision to stage a livestream gave its presentation infinitely more force.
The action opened with AJ and a friend arriving, head to toe in Versace, at a Milanese photo studio and backstage crammed with racks of clothes which they happily admire. Before cutting to a shoot in a studio, with a quartet of models. A mix of two all-black ensembles and a pair of youths in magnificent prints. One guy in a giant gold Medusa medallion print silk shirt worn with matching shorts and a golf hat, beside a strikingly pretty gal in a super mix of snakeskin pants and marble print tank all accessorized with giant gold hoop earrings and necklace. One stunning blonde in pawn-shaped little black dress dissected by a gold chain belt. Guys in sneakers or bovver boots; gals in wedge sandals or platform army boots.
A clever sneak peek meets backstage access for a runway show that will never take place. At which point Donatella made her entrance in a 'V' logo T-shirt and black jeans, to introduce AJ Tracey to the cast. The blonde bombshell once again showing herself far more instinctively in touch with the mood of our times than so many of her designer colleagues. And maintaining a house tradition began with Gianni of getting star musicians – like Prince or J Lo – to create custom-made soundtracks for their collections.
Today, the British artist was attired in denim jacket, pants and hats embossed with electric blue snakeskin, whereupon he debuts his latest track, as a beautiful model appears in a matching outfit to dance sensually around him. In a brilliant performance with an evocative chorus.
“How can I trust these folk who don’t even allow me to breathe?
Get out the numbers, get out the car when I want to see.
I got my first in the air. This night is bigger than me.
I stand with my brothers. You kill all my brothers and beat up on me.”
AJ Tracey rapping to a sample from Syntouch & Magic Sense’s Just Listen. More of the cast appear; gals in surgically cut pastel cocktails; guys in Miami Vice lilac power suits, as the UK rapper sums up the mood: “They see my skin and they’re guessing. Just coz I’m black doesn’t mean I’m aggressive.”
At the finale, AJ and buddy depart, obviously proud of their contribution to today’s great debate, and to fashion.
“All people not wearing masks in this video have been tested,” reads the final line in the clip. A video that will surely stand the test of time.
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