Just this past Saturday while at Men’s Fashion Week in Milan, during Dolce & Gabbana’s Spring-Summer ’18 runway showing, an interesting form of protest took center stage.
Millennial and Atlanta based soul singer, Raury, tore away from the rest of the runway fray to speak his mind on the personal and recently emerged beef that he has with the brand. Now, we know what you’re thinking… “Why, Raury? Weren’t they paying you?” And, the answer to that is, “YES! They were.” But, for some, an all expense paid trip to Milan, free high-end swag and a paycheck, just isn’t enough to keep quiet on social injustices. To get a clearer understanding on the series of events and how they took place, EGL’s got the back story for you.
Dolce & Gabbana, for their second season in a row, decided to bring in young social media influencers around the world to rock their clothes and represent their brand for Milan’s Men’s Fashion Week. Faced with previous controversies centered around D&G’s statements made on gay parenthood and their proud style affiliation with America’s newest first lady, Melania Trump, Dolce was under some serious pressure. Facing their third strike, a largely fair amount of damage control was immensely necessary, especially if the brand was even remotely serious about cleaning up their foolhardy messes. Thus emerging the playful “Boycott Dolce & Gabbana” campaign. In this movement, D&G produced t-shirts with the expression printed across the chest and commercials featuring children gleefully “protesting” the brand. Joined by none other than Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, the commercial was designed to push the ideals of protest being too commonplace in today’s world. As Dolce told Vogue before the show: “It’s irony! People use heavy words very easily these days. There is too much aggression.”
That is, until Raury took to the runway for the line’s finale segment of the show.
Removing his hoodie and bomber, Raury exposed the bold words written on his chest in black marker reading: PROTEST D&G, GIVE ME FREEDOM and I AM NOT YOUR SCAPEGOAT. With his eyes closed and his fist placed firmly in the air, Raury took his final walk with fortitude and pride, then immediately disappeared into the crowd crafting his escape. Just watch the video below for the exclusive footage.
Video provided by Raury
Mark Anthony Green with GQ had the opportunity to speak with Raury in an effort to gather an understanding on why he chose to protest the brand. To read excerpts of the interview keep reading:
GQ: Let’s start at square one. What did Dolce & Gabbana do that you felt was wrong?
Raury: 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. When I came out to Milan for my first time walking on a fashion runway, ever, I was excited. I’m a stylish-ass young kid, but I don’t know everything about fashion. I knew nothing about the T-shirt until I was here. I had already agreed to walk for them. [The day before the show,] I Googled “Dolce & Gabbana” so that I could know who was who when I finally met them. I didn’t want to be disrespectful to either one of them by calling them the wrong name. When I typed up their names, the first thing I saw was a headline on Fortune.com, “Dolce & Gabbana Is Trolling Melania Trump Critics with This $245 T-shirt.” National Post, AOL, etc. And then I saw a commercial featuring the boycott T-shirt, and it looked playful and lighthearted—it was a joke. It was a troll. Me, as a young man from Stone Mountain, Georgia, the birthplace of the Klu Klux Klan, I really felt this mockery of boycotting. Who knows, if boycotts didn’t happen, if Rosa Parks and M.L.K. didn’t step up…who knows if I would even exist. Boycotting matters. Boycotting is real. Dolce’s entire campaign says it’s not real. I know that if I walk out there and support or endorse anything that sits next to Trump—or support someone who even makes dinner for Trump or whatever—then that means that I support Trump also. I don’t support Trump. So I’m trapped, and I have to let people know that I don’t support Trump and I don’t support those who are trying to undermine the voice of the people.
GQ: Why “I am not your scapegoat”?
Raury: I wondered why I was picked to come out here and support them in a time when they’re going through some heat. So here I am, about to be like, Dolce & Gabbana is cool, but I didn’t know what they had done. And a lot of [models in the runway show] didn’t know what they had done. I felt like Dolce & Gabbana was literally trying to use the youth to wash their hands of any sort of heat from anyone who wants to protest against them.
GQ: To be fair, anytime an influencer or celebrity partners with a brand, it’s a business relationship. They get paid and the brand gets a new representative. Isn’t this just the nature of agreeing to something like that?
Raury: That shirt had so much heat on it, and the kids didn’t know that. And Dolce & Gabbana knew the kids didn’t know that. I knew. Why? Because I couldn’t type in Dolce & Gabbana without seeing a lot of negative energy around this shirt. It’s a whole different ball game. I believe our contract didn’t say anything about that. I agreed to walk on a runway and show up to some parties. Backstage, they kept approaching me and asking really particular questions. The most alarming one was when someone came up to me and said, “Hey, can you put on this shirt and say, ‘Hi, my name is Raury and my heart belongs to this and this and Dolce & Gabbana.’” They tried to put words in my mouth.
GQ: Stefano Gabbana posted many pictures of the T-shirt and campaign on his Instagram. They weren’t exactly hiding it. Did you guys know about it and what it stood for?
Raury: This is my first time walking in a runway show. There are a lot of other kids here—and it was their first time walking in a runway show, too. Everyone was just excited. 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.
GQ: Do you think Dolce & Gabbana had good intentions?
Raury: It was very insulting to know that Dolce & Gabbana was selling all of this millennial, pro-forward shit, but everything that they’re doing and saying is a step backwards. They’re speaking for the 1950s. They’re saying our voice doesn’t matter, and they fuck with Melania and Trump. It’s sad. But the future is now. I actually felt like they were asking me to do it. A part of me was like, does Dolce know Raury is going to go up there and do that shit? [laughing] Was it a test to see if millennials weren’t about shit? That was another thing racing in my head. I felt like if nothing happened, then they would be right. And that T-shirt would be right. Dolce would think they can talk shit about people boycotting, support the first lady of a president who is very parallel to Hitler, and bring the millennials and put them in that shit and nothing would happen. But it’s basic math. One plus two equals three. And this is what will always happen.
To get the full interview, head over to GQ.com!
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We wanna hear from you!
EGL is interested in hearing your thoughts and opinions on Raury’s decision to protest. Tell us what you think! Was it worth it? Or, should Raury have successfully fulfilled his obligation as an ambassador for the brand?
Written by: MAVEN CUTTINO