RAF: Rap's Latest Ode to Fashion
Frank Ocean's 'blonded RADIO' dropped "RAF", an A$AP Mob creation featuring A$AP Rocky, Frank Ocean, Quavo, Lil Uzi Vert, and Playboi Carti. Once you get past the initial (and lingering) hype of Frank Ocean rapping, the track emerges as an exemplification of rap's unique relationship with fashion.
Belgian fashion house Raf Simons is known for its edgy yet clean vision, particularly emphasized after founder/creative director Raf resigned from Dior in 2015. As stated by Raf himself on his namesake label's website: "I dont [sic] want to show clothes, I want to show my attitude, my past, present and future. I use memories and future visions and try to place them in todays world."
Rocky has been friends with Raf for years, and clearly appreciates his philosophy—Raf's designs have been mentioned in Rocky's songs for years. However, while Rocky used to be known (or at least thought of himself) as the rapper with a penchant and understanding of high fashion/couture, this latest A$AP Mob track documents a new generation of fashion-savvy rappers (collaborator Quavo was partially responsible for rap trio Migos' 2013 hit 'Versace'; Frank Ocean sat adjacent to Kanye West front-row at Off-White's Spring 2017 collection during NYFW; Vogue documents A$AP Rocky introducing Playboi Carti to Raf's designs here). Of course, rappers have been paying homage to certain fashion houses for decades, but it's undeniable that fashion's influence in rap has risen exponentially in the past few years. Rappers are increasingly seen at high-profile industry events, such as the MET Gala just a few weeks ago. As the interconnection of rap and fashion only strengthens, it's exciting to see what future collaborations—on both industry ends—are in store.
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