Erykah Badu has always been an icon, not only for her music, but for her style. I mean, c’mon, nobody was trying to rock the gravity defying hair wrap and arm cuffs like Badu was back in the day (except for maybe Nina Simone, but I digress). And her style has evolved into some very eclectic ensembles as time has passed. But we’ve taken notice, and so has Riccardo Tisci, the man behind Givenchy, known for dressing everybody who is anybody these days. The designer picked Badu to front his new collection in ads, including this stunning one shot by photography team Mert & Marcus. He spoke to Style.comabout why he wanted the neo-soul queen to be the face of his new campaign.
“Erykah, she’s an icon—come on!” Tisci said by phone from Paris. “What I want to do with my advertising campaign is spread the love. Already now it’s been three seasons that I’ve been using people that express something—they are great artists, or beautiful women, or stylish women, or models that I really believe in. It’s kind of a family portfolio.”
Tisci had known Badu slightly but had never worked with her. Still, he said, he’d had her image in the back of his mind when he was designing the Spring 2014 collection, a mash-up of African and Japanese influences. “She’s one of the most stylish women I’ve met in my life,” he said. “She’s got such a good sense of proportion, of colors.”
Tisci also opened up about always trying to diversify his models during runways shows and with his campaigns. He said the complaints by many about a lack of black faces in fashion, including Naomi Campbell and Bethann Hardison, were needed:
“I discovered Joan Smalls, I discovered Maria [Borges]. I discovered a lot of black girls, and I’ve been always supporting them. For me, I grew up in a family and I grew up in a culture, an education, that we all are the same.
It’s 2013. Everybody’s being so cool about Instagram, about Facebook, any media—everybody’s being so open. At the end of the day, why are not so many black girls or Latin girls in shows? When you have an American president who is black! When I see this happening, it’s quite sad, I think. People can be so avant-garde, so advanced, but actually not, because people are still making differences between skin color.”
What do you think of Tisci’s comments? And are you feeling Badu’s first ad for Givenchy? As one of the few neo-soul artists who didn’t go on a lengthy “Where’s Waldo?” sabbatical off of the face of the earth, I can appreciate that to this day, Erykah Badu is still getting so much shine.