I shouldn’t have gone. But I went anyway. Hindsight is 20/20.
The invitation appeared in my email.
The 25th anniversary of What Goes Around Comes Around handbag line celebration with a tribute to Gianni Versace, Saturday, December 8th, 2018, at the Versace Mansion in Miami Beach. Sponsored by Bentley. Please RSVP.
I confirmed my presence and told my wife to buy a dress. This event would be of great interest to our readership and perhaps even, I’d run into a few famous faces and secure quick interviews. The only thing I needed to do was juggle my schedule a bit to confidently travel down to Miami Beach from Washington, DC.
Somehow, I find a place to parallel park in Miami Beach, the American epicenter of parties, paradise, and sun-bathed or moonlit debauchery. Mere steps from my parking meter, a seemingly late-twenties European woman in high heels and a black skirt is puking into the trash can in front of the closed-for-business boutique store during what seemed to be a rough night for her. Had I known what my wife and I were in for ten minutes later, my head might’ve been hoarded in the trash can along with hers, dry-heaving together on command.
We walk around the corner to behold The Villa Casa Casuarina, also known as the Versace Mansion, where Gianni Versace, the namesake founder, lived until his 1997 gunshot murder on the front doorsteps of the property by an obsessed stalker. The ocean-facing mansion stands splendidly thirty feet behind an iron gate on Miami Beach’s most popular strip, Ocean drive. But folks are not entering one-by-one as expected. Instead, approximately two hundred people are standing in close-quarters, like cattle being herded for the slaughterhouse. We step into the fold and join the crowd, as the faces all around us resonate with perplexity. “What’s going on, why aren’t they letting anyone in?” I ask the lady next to me. “They’re not letting anyone in. I don’t know why.” I then went on to ask her if she was invited in the same manner as I was only to find out she too was a writer. Then I discovered that all two hundred of us were writers, media and bloggers.
“Calm the f**k down before I send you all home,” the bouncer standing on/guarding the stairs hollered. The smell of appealing perfumes and colognes waft in and out of my nostrils as I take note of how everyone is dressed to kill; it makes sense, as most of these writers cover fashion through their publication or medium. Many are even wearing Versace clothing to represent the brand in the best light possible. In fact, standing out here in this crowd is much like a junior fashion show in itself, as I appreciate the eclectic flavors surrounding me.
The bouncer, who appears as a long, greasy-haired security guard who works out with creatine milkshakes only on the weekends and guards dingy pool halls for extra cash when Versace doesn’t need him, makes sure his presence is known. One blogger tried to ask for permission to step inside the gate and into the mansion. “I’ll close this whole place down if I have to,” the bouncer hollered, scaring the well-dressed Black man back into his place in line, “test me, go ahead, step on these stairs again, any of you!”
I look around at all the bleak faces lining the sidewalk, all of us taking up convenient walking space for the passersby in Miami Beach without an invite to the Versace mansion. Lakers superfan James Goldstein steps out of the mansion gates, noticed by one person next to me. As they let one person out, the let one more person in, and this person next to me tells the bouncer he knows “someone inside” in a convincing manner. Momentarily, my public relations contact for Versace steps outside the gate to join the bouncer in monitoring our herd from the top of the stairs. The look on her face is ghastly, she knows it’s outlandish but must play along; my wife comments, “this could be the biggest mistake of her career.” I squeeze my way up to the front of the herd and ask the public relations lady about what was going on. “We over invited,” she stated simply to me, “so now, like, this has become something else.” Another hour of waiting goes by and the bouncer broadcasts that the party is over and to go home.
As us media personal stood by, befuddled by the lack of professionalism, I noticed how at least half of my fellow crowd were well-dressed, fashion-forward Black men and women. It was only natural for me to begin to make assumptions about the brand in my mind. Just a few years ago, a Versace store in the San Francisco Bay Area, a city “known” for diversity inclusion, was accused of discrimination for using a “Black shopper code” over the intercom whenever a Black person entered their store, to alert employees out of fear of shoplifting and to keep a watchful eye. I began to wonder if the half-Black crowd I stood in became an eyesore for the Versace Mansion and its public relations, having them reconsider everything in the most subliminal way possible; saying they overbooked it.
Perhaps big fashion has a race, creed, and cultural problem they need to come to Jesus about.
Rapper T.I. Cuts All Ties With Gucci Over Blackface Clothing
Days ago, Gucci released a sweater with a white female model posing in what appeared to be an extended black turtleneck reaching up to the bridge of her nose, featuring large, red, graphic lips over the model’s lips. It was quite apparent that this was a swipe to the Black community, in some perverted way or another, attempting to garner attention in the worst sort of way. Rapper T.I took notice and went live on social media to express his boycott of Gucci, “Our consumer base is the largest and strongest consumer base in the world, 1.25 trillion dollars, and it’s from people of color, hip-hop.”
Sufi Muslim’s Fight For Removal Of Their Belief’s Religious Symbol
Furthermore, Italian fashion designer Roberto Cavalli ran into issues when they rotated the mystical outlet of Islam’s symbol 90 degrees to represent sexuality and lust, versus the nearly two-hundred years’ worth of the symbol representing “Allah” spelled out, instead. The company refused to acknowledge any likeness, other than claiming the two images didn’t share a resemblance.
Fashion Chain Zara Faces Anti-Semitism
The fashion designer tried to cover their tracks by saying it was a wild-west inspired piece of clothing for youngsters, but most saw through the smokescreen and called it for what it was; a Star of David faked to look like a wild west sheriff’s star badge overlapping black and white striped clothing, much like the prison uniforms worn by those placed in concentration camps against their will during World War II.
Fronting The Problem
With barely an apology from Versace and their PR, only asking if I’d want to be “removed” from their mailing lists because of their “unfortunate” night, the question continues to stick around; are some of the major fashion houses swindling money from the Black community, exploiting their culture and philosophies and repackaging it in a buy-me-I’m-an-overpriced-and-hot-item world, maneuvering their way into music videos and song lyrics, while laughing all the way to the bank in the name of mysterious noxious intolerance?
I want to say yes. I want to say that I’ve unwillingly discovered an incredibly private subculture of detestation within the big fashion houses. I want to say I’ve discovered bigotry at work right before our everyday eyes. Yet, how can we conscientiously forward our money to such lack of social acceptance, as companies like this wait on the wayside to reach the trillion dollar mark just to tear those apart who built them.
The above story is a recount of an experience shared by one of our Editors Dan Fecht. Our Dan was invited by a P.R. company to an event in Miami for a “Tribute To Gianni Versace”, the following is his story of what happened. What makes this story more compelling is the recent revelation of the lack of respect and compassion that “Major Fashion” has shown to the public. Dan and I had a conversation prior to December 2018, in which I told him that my experience at most fashion events have almost always been riddled with egotistical a**holes. I even stated that “Major Fashion” uses exclusivity as a marketing strategy, so they feel as though they can get away with anything. I am happy to see the veil lifted to show some of the ugliness they are really capable of.
For more google: Roberto Cavalli Vs. Sufi , Prada Blackface, Gucci Blackface
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Cultural and Poetry Editor