Patriotism and fashion a powerful combination
A Campus in Style
Published: Thursday, November 17, 2011
Updated: Friday, November 18, 2011 01:11
In American pop culture, the biggest trends affect many different specializations. Music, fashion, art, and all other subdivisions can be impacted individually by a new wave of ideas. If one trend is started by a musician, then it can quickly translate to fashion designers, other artists, and media outlets. Musicians also rapidly adapt the hottest street or runway styles in fashion.
This year, a patriotic twist was thrown into the scope of music and fashion culture. "Watch The Throne" by Jay-Z and Kanye West was one of the year's biggest album releases. Their lead single, "Otis," received critical acclaim for both the song and the music video. If you haven't seen the video, check it out: Kanye and Jay saw the top off of a Maybach and proceed to drive around and do donuts in the car. The cover art for the single featured a blurred and almost holographic image of an American flag. This image for the cover for "Otis", as well as the actual album cover for "Watch The Throne" were both creatively directed by Riccardo Tisci. Tisci is a fashion designer and creative director for Italian brand Givenchy. Currently on their "Watch The Throne tour," Kanye West and Jay-Z have both been equipped with custom Givenchy apparel to wear while on stage.
This image of an American flag on such a big album brought attention to our nation's biggest symbol of patriotism. But, the American flag is not always portrayed in such a simple or non-controversial manner. Streetwear and lifestyle brand Black Scale often uses upside-down or black and white flags on their clothing. Also, the brand recently released a graphic tee with the words, "F*** Amerika." Black Scale has brought plenty of attention to themselves with various symbols of anti-patriotism and occult imagery. Up and coming rapper A$AP Rocky is one of the biggest musician supporters of the streetwear brand. In no coincidence, the cover for his newest mixtape, "LiveLoveA$AP," featured Rocky posing in front of a large American flag, in all black and white.
Even in printed media, the symbol of the flag has made it's impact. The October/November issue of Vibe magazine features Lil Wayne. What's interesting to point out about the cover is the reflection of the grayscale American flag in Wayne's sunglasses. Symbolism for the current status of his stardom and career? Maybe. Was Wayne actually staring into an American flag? Doubtful, but this subtle addition of the flag's reflection added a key element to a very popular cover. Whether printed on a $300 Givenchy tee or painted on cardboard at your local Occupy protest, the American flag has come back as a major symbol of American popular culture once again.