Nostalgia is always in style. Take it from Daniel Lee, the Creative Director of Bottega Veneta, who has implored sentimentality in his most recent media rollout for the brand. Records, songs, and books have been common mediums for its audience to experience culture through an artistic lens. Now, the Italian luxury fashion house is exploring an alternative way to engage with their audiences with a new zine. For the uninitiated, a zine is akin to a digital journal. Think of it as an online diary, but featuring some of your favorite celebrities and artists. Launching today, Issue 01 features collaborators ranging from Missy Elliott and Tyler Mitchell to Barbara Hulanicki and Tyrone Lebon. The digital journal captures the stylish and innovative universe of Bottega Veneta and will publish four times a year to coincide with the launch of in-store collections. The first issue will reflect the vibe of Salon 01 and hone in on domesticity.
The artist, who’s ready to drop long-awaited new music, redefined hip-hop vocally and visually—and lifting up other artists only burnishes her superstar legacy.
This spring, Melissa Arnette Elliott stood before a mass of Berklee College of Music students and faculty in Boston. She requested a moment to gather herself. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, and tears began to fall freely over her smiling face. She opened her eyes. She began to speak to the graduating class, herself among them, just before being awarded an honorary doctorate.
A few days later, I watched Elliott’s speech on YouTube from my living room couch. I scrolled back to when she closed her eyes and counted the seconds until she spoke again. Altogether, there were 20 seconds of what I assumed was silent meditation, perhaps gratitude, in service to a life so successful, it had fashioned itself into this spectacular moment.
Two weeks later, at a recording studio just outside
Atlanta, where she’s working on a long-anticipated seventh album, I ask
Elliott if she remembers standing there for those 20 seconds. She
hadn’t known it had been quite that long. I confirm. I counted to make
sure. Her eyelids, painted green and shimmering under the overhead
lights, flutter a few times while she thinks about it more.
“I didn’t even realize,” she says. “You know what’s so funny? I wrote a speech and got up there and choked up, and before I knew it, I was like, ‘Oh my God, where’s the paper?’ And it was just crumbled up on the podium.” However, she hadn’t closed her eyes to remember her speech or make a harried backup plan for giving one on the fly. She’s Missy Elliott. She went somewhere else entirely.
“I went to the side of my grandmother’s house where I used to play church. I used to shout and sing all kinds of gospel songs. Ones I had made up, ones that existed in the church…I was at that place.” Elliott considers herself a very spiritual person. For her, “God is real because I went to that place and felt like he had his hands on me from a child.”
She’s been making ahead-of-the-curve music and mind-bending videos for 20 years—and that’s no fluke. Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah goes behind the curtain with the ultraprivate creative genius.
This article appears in the June 2017 issue of ELLE, on newsstands now.
At the photo shoot, the accoutrements of being her precede her. A tray of acrylic nails and an almost-empty bottle of professional-grade nail polish remover are carried by Bernadette Thompson, the Takashi Murakami of manicurists. A tall, strong-looking man walks around distractedly, wheeling a Louis Vuitton duffel bag that is smaller than his forearm; from time to time, he spins it in a wide circle out of boredom. Jewels—gold chokers, hoop earrings, and rings in a velvet-lined box—are attended to by a thin young man wearing a black Balenciaga fitted cap and high-top Nikes. There’s a bottle of jewelry cleaner harnessed to his chest and a chain of styling clips attached to his hoodie strings; he looks listless, like he has given his body over to the task. On the table, someone has set down two Kangol hats, one tan, one black: fuzzy, wearable homages to the golden era of hip-hop. They sit there like low-key crowns.