M.I.A. Won't 'Snitch' on the Bootleggers Who Inspired Her Versus Versace Collection

With so many fashion brands vigorously fighting fakes, we kind of love that the oft-copied Versace almost embraced them. Or at least M.I.A. did--so we went straight to the source and got some background details on the collaboration from the singer/songwriter herself.
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With so many fashion brands vigorously fighting fakes, we kind of love that the oft-copied Versace almost embraced them. Or at least M.I.A. did--so we went straight to the source and got some background details on the collaboration from the singer/songwriter herself.
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The M.I.A. x Versus Versace collection—you know, the one inspired by Versace counterfeits—launched this past Wednesday, and the irreverence of the theme still has our curiosity piqued. With so many fashion brands vigorously fighting fakes, we kind of love that the oft-copied Versace almost embraced them. Or at least M.I.A. did--so we went straight to the source and got some background details on the collaboration from the singer/songwriter herself.

"That’s always been part of the M.I.A. culture – to talk about bootlegs, and people that sell them or make them," the singer explained. "Then when I was approached by Versace, it just seemed like a good idea to take all that and reverse the cycle, get Versace to copy the bootleggers. And then for the bootleggers to copy Versace copying the bootleggers, and just to keep that cycle going. It was just to basically reconnect the cycle in a way that is, I think, only possible through what I can offer Versace in the collaboration. So it was about bringing the concept of M.I.A. and the concept of Versace together."

While she said she's "never worn very high-end Versace stuff," she explains, "I’ve always repped the street side of it. It’s been part of my life growing up and the fabric of my making." The people around her wore a lot of the label, though.

"I was there in the clubs, when people were wearing it, going out to jungle raves or garage raves in England or raves or hanging out with hip-hop people in L.A. or New York." she added. But then, fast forward to 2012 and she's sitting FROW at the label's Milan Fashion Week runway show, wearing a full-on real Versace outfit. So it must have been interesting melding her two worlds—the faux Versace that influenced her party-filled youth and legitimately designing for the venerable fashion house now.

"It’s trying to do a hard, street, Versace version of hippy," M.I.A. explained. "Matangi [a Tantric goddess and name of the artist's upcoming album] lives in the jungle or the hood. She is the goddess of words and music, so the collection is just to represent the type of people she would represent. We wanted to take what Versace did originally with Versus, not lose the street-ness of it."

That meant keeping the iconic Medusa head and friezes into the mix, but interpreting it in an unexpected streetwear way. "Print wise, I was just coming from doing an art exhibition in Kerala in India, and I think the designs for the collection were based loosely on the same things that I was inspired by at the time. I wanted to keep a lot of original bootleg designs I found but change the elements out but keep it very rough," she said.

But wait, who are all these people who are out there wearing the fakes, which ultimately inspired this badass collaboration?

"NOOOO snitching," M.I.A. declared. "I'm a real woman."

Check out the entire the M.I.A. x Versus Versace collection at versace.com.