Blank, unfazed model faces slid through Dolce & Gabbana’s Milan fashion show, molded to be this way, directing attention to their beauty and to the product their showcasing on their bodies. Walking in the same stoic manner was Atlanta artist Raury, donning a yellow bomber jacket and shorts with lavender dyed hair. Toward the end of the show, he strips, revealing a marker covered chest reading “PROTEST D&G,” “GIVE ME FREEDOM,” and “I AM NOT YOUR SCAPEGOAT.” With a fist up- the recognized symbol of protest for Black power groups and resistance groups in general- Raury stood alone as models continued waltzing and glared, confused, at him, standing completely still in the very middle of the walkway.
Raury’s actions came about after he googled the brand to learn more about them, following his acceptance of their offer to partake in the fashion show. His distaste for the brand arose after reading about the innumerable controversies that surround the brand and their head designers, particularly one involving the proud dressing assistance they provided Melania Trump. After many people showed their disapproval, Dolce and Gabbana launched what GQ called “tongue-in-cheek-meta-campaign” with the leasing slogan of “Boycott Dolce and Gabbana,” featuring t-shirts with the text costing upward $200. Additionally, they launched a commercial with children “protesting” the brand alongside the heads of the fashion house, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana.
Raury sat with GQ in an extremely sociopolitical interview to discuss why he decided to do what he did. Alongside many thought provoking questions and answers, done magnificently by Mark Anthony Green, two questions stuck out to me personally: one involving his thoughts on what they did wrong:
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 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., “
And one on the “scapegoat” statement etched in his lower rib:
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.
Raury’s dissonance with the brand, and his outspokenness about it, fit securely with the type of character he and his collective, LoveRenaissance (LVRN, for short), wear boldly on their sleeves. As he stated, mocking the youth and mocking the intricate steps of change are tools used to stagnate, which is an action he won’t stand with. After his actions, he posted an Instagram post further detailing his decision to protest and the feelings that were churning during the act itself.
I never felt so alone, so terrified, yet so alive… Found myself in tears when I realized the people understood, and I’m not just screaming in the dark anymore … if ur in this industry remember that there is a god, and he protects the good… so do the work when aligned to. following my heart from this day forth knowing that I am living truth… If it ever means my end so be it. (GQ story in Bio) The future is now