Story by Kamylle Edwards & Kai Acevedo
Culture has long had a rocky relationship with the fashion world. We’ve been bombarded with too many examples of fashion brands, publications and influencers “borrowing” from the style, lingo and music of cultures, and then forgetting to properly credit or acknowledge the origins of what’s been borrowed. However, 2017 may be remembered as the year where noticeable change had been implemented in regards to how the fashion realm at-large interacts with the cultures, a la hip-hop, that it often so heavily relies on for inspiration.
It seems as if the last 12 months have been pretty helpful in carving out a vantage point for people to better peep just how deep the roots of their influence can run. Remnants of our sauce may now be expected to be present in behind-the-scenes decision-making processes, as well as design aesthetics and spending trends. It’s kind of feeling like we may actually be participating in the conversation and not just a topic of it. Here, REVOLT recaps some of 2017’s more progressive fashion highlights.
Raury's Dolce & Gabbana Protest
Last year, designers D&G were in the hot seat over their endorsement of Donald and Melania Trump. Stefano Gabbana boastfully re-posted images of Melania in his garments, and after public condemnation, D&G responded by releasing tees that read "Boycott Dolce & Gabbana." The statement was insulting enough to inspire a protest right on their own runway by Raury, who walked for D&G at Milan Fashion Week 2017 during their grandiose show highlighting millennial "it" kids (including Christian Combs, Diggy Simmons, and Luka Sabbat). He was quickly escorted off the red carpet.
Shockingly, most of the shows participants were not clear on why Raury made such a bold statement. In an interview with GQ, Raury said, "The 'Boycott Dolce & Gabbana' T-shirt they created completely makes a mockery of what boycotting is. Boycotting is the people's voice. A protest is the people's voice. It has power. It changes things."
In such sensitive times, making a mockery of movements is not only tactless, but it puts this brand in a clear category with other Trump supporters. While the general public and consumers may have taken some money out of the business, Raury said about the other models: "Everyone was blinded by the opportunity. First time being in Milan...Dolce & Gabbana giving us free clothes. It's lit. This is Dolce's 'Millennial' campaign. But a lot of millennials didn't know that Dolce & Gabbana styles Melania Trump or had made this T-shirt mocking boycotting. But my nerdy ass looked into it."
What makes the 'protest' T-shirt more upsetting is it leaves room for journalists like Kristina Rudulfo at Elle to make comparisons like this: "If the concept seems familiar, that's because Beyoncé did it first. When people were planning to 'boycott' after her 2016 Super Bowl performance of 'Formation,' she trolled haters by selling 'Boycott Beyoncé' shirts on tour." Affirmations like this tear down the merit of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Pirelli's All-Black 2018 Calendar
The Pirelli Calendar was first introduced in 1963 as a trade calendar. This year, it was the talk of the town after Tim Walker's version of the classic Alice in Wonderland tale was revealed to feature an all-black cast. While most headlines implied this was a first for the company, it was not as they did the same in 1987. However, this was the first all-black, all-star cast without any nudity.
Historically, the Pirelli calendar is known for seductive images that toe the line between art and pornography. Walker's approach to honoring the Pirelli aesthetic while reimagining Alice in Wonderland with a high-fashion touch sent a message of quality and opulence that was illuminated by different tones of melanin. The famed cast added an element of character that is mandatory to tell the story of Alice, but they still maintained their individual celebrity. Striking high-gloss images on each page properly presented the cast as royalty which sets a different narrative for African-Americans within news, media, entertainment, and the tire industry.
Elaine Welteroth Named Teen Vogue's Editor-in-Chief
The news of Teen Vogue's new editor-in-chief, Elaine Welteroth, took over the internet this past April. The magazine's previous editor-in-chief, Amy Astley, launched the teen fashion bible in 2006 and ran the publication until 2016. As the social climate is changing around us, Condé Nast sought a need to speak to a diverse yet neglected audience. And Welteroth has found herself pegged as the stereotypical poster child for "wokeness," which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
The company has taken a more honest approach to journalism and fashion that showcases the importance of diversity, as well as inclusiveness to a young, impressionable demographic. In an industry where the bottom line is as important as the cover story, Welteroth used her talents to exceed expectations , reviving excitement for its readers. However, this November, Condé Nast announced that the Teen Vogue publication will be phased out and replaced with their digital content under Phil Picardi. Does this mean the stories of the millions of young "woke" black girls will be phased out, too?
Swizz Beatz's Collaboration with Bally
In September, Swizz Beatz presented his collaboration with Bally. Shortly after Gucci used a Dapper Dan-"inspired" design, Swizz Beatz put Balenciaga under fire for their illegal use of the Ruff Ryders logo lookalike on a button-up shirt in their collection. The recent Harvard Business grad applied his business-savvy mind and his passion for promoting artists to crafting a partnership with Bally.
Bally is one of the oldest high-end brands still in existence. Opening their doors to Swizz allowed him to put the spotlight on artist Ricardo Cavolo, designer of the collection, and other artists. In addition to the capsule collection, #NoCommission artists can display their art on Bally store windows. This partnership is monumental as it gives an unknown artist the same visibility as a world-renowned one. Additionally, artists that are commissioned will collect 100% of their profit, empowering artists at all levels to create to the furthest extent of their heart's desire. After all, art is a form of expression done for the passion and not the money.
The MET Gala's Open Invitation
This year's MET Gala was unique to the years past, celebrating an individual designer Rei Kawakubo as opposed to a group. We saw more of our favorite artists exude black excellence on this night from Zendaya in her brilliant yellow gown and Cassie in a cascading pile of black spikes to Migos dripping in diamonds paired with pristinely tailored black suits and ASAP Rocky in an all-denim ensemble alongside his muse. Each star brought personality that was their own despite the pressures to assimilate blaring through the flashing lights that line the sides of the grand entrance. One iconic bathroom picture tells a story of diversity in under 140 characters.
Rihanna's Looks Make a Killin'
That Rihanna reign just won’t let up. Having already conquered music under the tutelage of JAY-Z, it come as no surprise that in 2017 the “Diamonds” singer proved that she can be equally as dominant in areas outside of the record business. Even without the release of a new album, the most streamed female artist of the last 12 months, dropped another critically and commercially successful hit with her PUMA collection. She also launched what could end up being her most important project to date, Fenty Beauty. The beauty brand aims to become an oasis for women of all shades and colors in the traditionally non-inclusive beauty industry. Aside from shaking up the status quo, Fenty Beauty also seems committed to keeping emerging models like Slick Woods at the forefront of ad campaigns.
The Arrival of Virgil Abloh
In 2017, a cosign from Virgil Abloh was as good as the touch of Midas. And the word must’ve circulated throughout the music, fashion and design industries, because Kanye West’s longtime creative director was an unstoppable force in all areas. A subsequent result of him having already carved out an easy-to-identify style aesthetic has been him being allowed the freedom to apply his creative lens to a wide ranging set of palettes. He’s designed sneakers for Nike, furniture for IKEA, costumes for the New York City Ballet, and the cover art for Lil Uzi Vert’s Luv Is Rage 2. (He also directed the video for Uzi’s smash hit, “XO Tour Life.”) Further cementing his place at the center of the current landscape of fashion and influence, Virgil took home an award at the British Fashion Council’s yearly Fashion Awards. Beating out streetwear behemoths like Supreme and Vetements, his OFF-WHITE label was named the Urban Luxe Brand of the year.
The Return of Dapper Dan
Unlike JAY-Z, who didn’t need Dapper Dan to acquire the Gs on his chest, Gucci did need to acknowledge the creative genius of the legendary Harlem tailor and trendsetter in order to validate the credibility of a recent collection that featured several Dapper-esque items. After being dragged via social media and think-pieces, the brand known for the double Gs gave the Dapper One an Instagram shoutout, will include him and his designs in a future campaign, and plans to invest in the re-launch of his Harlem boutique. The not-so-expected turn of events sparked a resurgence in interests of all things Dapper Dan. He would later be added to VFiles’ long list of esteemed Runway Mentors and see his designs appear in an exhibit at the MoMA. With some assistance from Steve Stoute, Dapper Dan was able to finally receive the credit he had long been overdue.
Supreme and Louis Vuitton connect
There's nothing wrong with keeping your ears and eyes to the streets for inspiration. High fashion just tends to have a habit of taking, running with, and profiting off of those street-born inspirations, without much regard for their origins. Streetwear, a once scoffed at fashion subculture, had its biggest coup happen earlier this year when Supreme linked up with Louis Vuitton for their collaboration of epic proportions. Resulting in a series of jackets, hoodies, pants, fanny packs and skate decks, that were of course instant hits, the partnership was a shining example of what potentially happens when high embraces low.