Atlanta-based artist Raury caused ripples in the fashion world this weekend when he protested a Dolce & Gabbana runway show in Milan that he was walking in. Raury was one of the many models in the fashion brand's Spring-Summer '18 show on June 17 when he removed his shirt on the catwalk to reveal the words PROTEST, DG GIVE ME FREEDOM, and I AM NOT YOUR SCAPEGOAT written on his chest.
Speaking to GQ after the moment of protest, Raury explained that his actions were inspired by Dolce & Gabbana's decision to dress Melania Trump and the subsequent fall out from their political stance. Having faced criticism for dressing the First Lady, D&G launched an ironic “Boycott Dolce & Gabbana” campaign across social media, created T-shirts bearing the phrase, and produced a commercial featuring children “protesting” against the brand.
"The 'Boycott Dolce & Gabbana' T-shirt they created completely makes a mockery of what 'boycotting' is," Raury said, adding that he was unaware of the controversy until he Googled D&G after arriving in Milan. "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.
"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 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."
Raury goes on to explain what happened after he left the runway and his wider thoughts on political protest in the interview. He ends with a word of warning to brands who hire young people to front their campaigns. "If your message is cool, then it’s cool," he said. "But if it ain’t, millennials are going to come and let you know. And we won’t let up."
Read the full GQ interview here.