On Thursday afternoon, during Milan’s first Digital Fashion Week, Versace unveiled a brave presentation that celebrates the Black Lives Matter movement. And this is also a first, it should be noted.
Where most of the big international houses have contented themselves with making fine speeches on the “BLM” movement, while others have not hesitated to select only white models for their presentations, Donatella Versace has invited the famous rapper Briton AJ Tracey to appear in his brand’s music video. Hands down the best moment of the inaugural season of this new digital format that spans four days. The collection is memorable, but its presentation testifies to the relevance of a city like Milan in the current context, at a time particularly attentive to the emancipation of minorities.
The Milanese house has used its slot on this season which brings together 43 events to offer a preview of its next “Flash Collection”, which will be available for sale in August. Filmed in the photo studio where the collection campaign was shot, AJ Tracey’s performance includes a new title unveiled as a world exclusive.
Due to the pandemic, Camera della Moda launched “Milan Digital”, its first fully digital fashion season, with the exception of two shows – houses have therefore often turned to pre-recorded videos. But Versace chose to broadcast their presentation live, for an even more impressive result.
The video opens with the arrival of AJ and a friend, dressed in Versace from top to toe, in a Milanese photo studio – or rather behind the scenes, filled with clothes racks that the two friends happily inspect. Before embarking on a photo shoot, surrounded by a quartet of models. Two all-black outfits, and a couple in gorgeous prints. A guy in a silk shirt printed with a giant gold medallion, worn with matching shorts and a golf cap, next to a breathtakingly beautiful girl, dressed in snakeskin pants and a marbled top, all accessorized with oversized gold earrings and necklace. A gorgeous blonde girl in a little black dress, her waist marked with a golden chain belt. The men in sneakers or military boots, the women in wedge sandals or lace-up platform boots.
Like a glimpse behind the scenes of a parade that will never take place. Donatella Versace then entered the studio with a T-shirt printed with a large V and black jeans, to introduce AJ Tracey to the rest of the team. Once again, the legendary blonde designer is much more in tune with the times than many of her colleagues in the fashion world. While maintaining a house tradition that started under Gianni: asking music stars – like Prince or J Lo – to create bespoke soundtracks to showcase the Versace collections.
In the video, the British rapper is dressed in a denim jacket, pants and bucket hat embossed with an electric blue snakeskin pattern. Halfway through the presentation, he sings his last title, while a magnificent black model, dressed in a feminine outfit cut in the same pattern, begins to dance sensually around him. An impressive performance, punctuated by an evocative chorus.
“How can I trust these folks who don’t even allow me to breathe?
Get out the numbers, get out the car when I want to see.
I got my fist in the air. This night is bigger than me.
I stand with my brothers. You kill all my brothers and beat up on me. ”
(“How could I trust these people who keep me from breathing?
Get the numbers out, get the car out, I want to know.
I wave my fist in the air. Tonight is more important than me.
I resist with my brothers. You are killing all my brothers, you are going after me. “)
AJ Tracey raps on an excerpt from Just listen by Syntouch & Magic Sense. Other models make their appearance: girls in pastel-colored cocktail dresses, cut with surgical precision, boys in lilac suits reminiscent of Miami vice… The British rapper sums up the atmosphere of the presentation and his message as follows: “They see my skin and they imagine things. It is not because I am black that I am aggressive”.
At the end of the video, AJ Tracey and her boyfriend leave the studio, very proud of their contribution to movement and current fashion.
“Everyone who is not wearing a mask in this video has been tested,” says Versace at the end of the credits of this presentation which will likely stand the test of time.