With his new single “Diet Coke”, Pusha T delved into trends new and old. Old Man: Pusha always raps about selling coke. New: Blanket from longtime collaborator of Raf Simons, fashion designer and artist Sterling Ruby. Ruby’s mash-up of melting faces with raw metal letters that spell “Diet Coke” continues the fusion of hip-hop and fashion worlds that has been going on for a decade now.
Like so many other things, you can trace this trend back to Kanye West and Virgil Abloh, and specifically to the 2011 cover. Look at the throne. As creative director of the Ye’s Donda agency, Abloh chose Riccardo Tisci, then a Givenchy designer, to create the gold foil illustrations for the album.
Alboh later did the covers for Lil Uzi Vert’s love is the rage 2Westside Gunn’s Pray for ParisPop Smoke’s Aim for the stars, aim for the moon, and Astronaut by British rapper Octavian. For Abloh, it was always about frosting his creative vision on anything cool, whether it was clothing or not. “For me, as I always say [when asked] why I work at Louis Vuitton and why I do Nike or why do Off-White or why do Moët champagne,” he said in a statement. QG interview with Westside Gunn, it’s because “he’s the best in his class. It could be Drake’s plane and West Side Gunn’s album covers. They are the best in their category. »
Then another designer from Givenchy, Matthew Williams, who also worked with Abloh on the streetwear brand Been Trill. Williams served as executive producer on Playboi Carti’s latest album All Lotta Red. Williams’ relationship with Carti shows how designer album covers are often indicative of a much deeper partnership. He cast Carti in his first ad campaign for Givenchy and serves as something of a creative director for the rapper, though he balks at that exact label. It’s all part of a blurring of lines between fashion house and rapper. It’s the same kind of relationship that emerged between Ye, née Kanye West, and Balenciaga designer Demna Gvasalia. Gvasalia was credited with the creative direction of Ye’s latest album and Donda’s performances. Since then, the designer has dressed the rapper and just about everyone in his orbit, like Julia Fox. Where does the aesthetics of these rappers stop and where does that of the creators begin?
Pusha’s Sterling Ruby Blanket is a unique piece rather than the result of a long-standing creative partnership. But somehow it’s even cooler. Not only happy to wear the clothes and sit front row at fashion shows, rappers are now copying album covers like they do designer grails. What is that jacket, Margiela? What is this clutch, Givenchy, Abloh or Sterling Ruby?