Versus Versace collection infuses the brand with M.I.A.'s edgy style

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 October, 2013, 11:42pm

Rihanna is working with British clothing chain River Island, and Madonna did a capsule collection with H&M.

Now, Sri Lankan-British rapper and musician M.I.A., who shot to fame in London with her first album Arular, has released a capsule collection for Versace's younger diffusion line, Versus.

Hot on the heels of J.W. Anderson, who collaborated with the brand last year and has just been announced as the successor to Stuart Vevers at Loewe, M.I.A. infused her powerful, irreverent street style into the Italian label; this is one of the more exciting collaborations to come about.

After several years being co-designed by Donatella Versace and Jonathan Anderson (another young British talent) it seems that Versus is continuing down this London, street-style route. Since there's so much talk of Milan's complacency with fashion's new global pace, perhaps Donatella is right to have the foresight to tap the talents of the edgier, rising London scene.

A grainy campaign shot in East London markets features M.I.A. and friends wearing the collection. Perhaps some irony is intended, as one shot shows a girl clad in one of the outfits standing among piles of £10 jeans being sold at a stall.

According to the project details, the idea was inspired by the bootlegged Versace prints M.I.A. would find on market stalls as a teenager. A high fashion house parodying its own bootlegged products - now that's a fresh idea.

"It's always been part of the M.I.A. culture - to talk about bootlegs, and people that sell them or make them," the musician says in the release.

"When I was approached by Versace, it seemed like a good idea to take that and reverse the cycle. Versace designs have always been bootlegged, now it's Versace bootlegging the bootleg for the bootleggers to bootleg the bootleg. This is to keep that cycle going."

Loud graphic prints in black, white, green and gold use Versace emblems roughly mashed up with Asian symbols. Military wear is an influence and it's all worn with big, chunky gold jewellery - something both the rapper and the brand are famous for.

The collection is cool as a concept, though not particularly groundbreaking in its design. But this bold and daring move for the Versus label creates a newsworthy connect to a sub-culture far removed from its roots. It also shows that Donatella Versace and those at the brand can poke fun at the industry.

"I love the energy of the street, so when M.I.A. suggested we use bootlegs of Versace, I thought it was such an incredible idea," Donatella Versace added in the same release. "The collection is everything that I love about the new Versus Versace - it's fast, loud, unafraid, and brings together the worlds of music and fashion."

M.I.A. is talented, stylish and controversial, so the Italian brand is smart to choose her. This daughter of a Tamil activist father and seamstress mother found success in the world of pop by fusing alternative hip hop, dance, electronica and new rave with world music. An original style marks her out from most contemporaries.

A fashion collaboration with a big brand was waiting to happen, but perhaps the artist was just waiting for an original idea.

M.I.A. x Versus Versace is available online from Oct 16, and at the Harbour City store from next month