Last night was the massive party for Donatella Versace’s recently relaunched diffusion line, Versus, with guest designer J.W. Anderson at the helm of it’s dyed fur stoles, zebra print tank tops and signature safety-pin dresses. In addition to three insane runway shows, Donatella had two of her favorite artists, Angel Haze and Grimes, perform a couple of short sets throughout the night, properly draped in Medusa heads and shiny Italian gold. As it turns out, Donatella is as much a rock star to these young musicians as their predecessors have been to Donatella and her brand, and Haze and Grimes were excited to be asked to play for one of their heroines. We caught up with the two backstage before the show to talk Versace, fashion and, of course, a bit about their music too.
I read your Tumblr post the other day about being called vapid because you love clothes so much. It seems like you have a complicated relationship to fashion. I really do care about fashion, but a lot of the issues I care about are at odds with things in the fashion industry. That’s more what I was trying to address. It’s a complicated issue, but it’s one I care about. Music can be the same. Any industry has a really shitty side. The music industry has a really crappy side too. It’s because they’re industries.
So then what do you love about Versace? I won’t even call them a brand, because it’s a family, Donatella and Allegra. And I just feel like they’re really strong women. And we’ve sort of become friends. And it’s stuff I actually do wear, because it’s vampire-chic.
You grew up on Donatella being a celeb, too. I just thought she was bad-ass. She doesn’t care what people think. I just like that there’s such a strong sense of branding and Italian identity. And it’s so flamboyant. It just has more of a face on it.
What was it like when you met Donatella? It was scary the first time but then I chilled out. I just played her show and she, like, partied. It was pretty good.
Tell me a little bit about your personal style. I feel like I dress terribly. I’m just a lazy dresser.
Summer is approaching. Any summer style or grooming essentials? Very little grooming, probably. I’ll probably just wear a lot of kimonos and stuff.
Do you have style icons? I do and I don’t. I’m most interested in constant change, with my art and my music, so I feel like I do a lot of things differently in terms of fashion. Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes and Marina Abramovic are probably the best dressed people. Or, like, Cleopatra.
Have you been factoring in high fashion stuff into your wardrobe? Donatella gave me this trench coat and I wear it every day.
It’s funny because you come from a punk background but now you’re all grown and fancy and fashion-y. I like to do both. I still have never worn heels anywhere. I wore my running shoes the last time I played Donatella’s show.
What are you working on musically? I’m in my weird darky creepy basement, working so much. I’m kind of taking a break at this very moment because I went really heavy last week and I spent too much time listening to my own voice. I did like a 36 hour day so now I can’t listen to music.
Are you still producing everything yourself, or has Grimes become a bigger project? Yea, it’s all me. I’ll mix it with somebody, but I feel like production is part of my songwriting process. If someone else produces it, it doesn’t feel like I made it. I’m a good enough producer that it’s fine. It gets frustrating because there’s stuff you want to know how to do that you just don’t know, but you can figure it out.
Tell me about how you got involved with Versace. Donatella had been reaching out to my camp for a while, and we finally met up, and we totally fell in love. And I’m doing her show because Versus means a lot to her, and she’s been working on it forever.
What do you love about Donatella? I love Donatella because she’s so fearless. The first thing she ever said to me was be fearless, be provocative, and fight for your dreams. Favorite thing ever. I was going to get that tattooed on me today, but I didn’t have time. And she’s been through a ton of shit and to be that strong even in the face of any adversity is amazing. It makes her one of my idols, genuinely, even if I didn’t like clothes, she would be someone that was a strong person in my life.
Her long relationship to rap, Lil Kim, Notorious B.I.G., Missy Elliot—it must feel good to get a nod from her. It’s great to be recognized by someone you admire.
I feel like this year you’ve really stepped up the fashion game. It was mostly a fear thing. Where I’m from, fashion is not a thing. I didn’t know anything about image, but then I learned and I was like, let me shake some fucking tables. But now I’m interested in fashion, I know what I like to wear. Your sense of style is a representation of who you are inside. You look comfortable or flashy or whatever. I look gaudy because I literally feel like I might be Jesus. Versace helps you feel like a baller.
Tell me about the album. I’m in the last two weeks of the album, Dirty Gold. And it’s fucking awesome. I only wish I could put out all the music now.
Who are you working with? Coldpay, Arcade Fire, Mike Dean, Malay, Emile Haynie, Mark Ronson. All over the place.
Where have you been working? Spain for a while, London for two weeks, LA for two months. In Spain, we lived in a house on top of a mountain and civilization was an hour away from us and I got a little cabin fever.
What does the album title Dirty Gold mean? Just how I feel about people. You have to mine it, find it in certain places. It comes with the dirt, it comes with everything, but once you clean it all off, it’s beautiful.
This year has been so big for you. How are you handling it? I was just a girl on fucking YouTube. It’s a major adjustment, but I don’t care if there’s bad, or there’s loss, it’s something to be grateful for. I get to live my fucking dreams and other people get to watch me.