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Amid a worldwide pandemic, it can be hard to find moments of happiness—leave it to Erykah Badu, however, to accomplish the impossible. The iconic musician has always had unconventional style, but last night she used fashion to address the current Covid-19 crisis. In Austin to be honored with the Filmmakers & Soundtrack Award at the 20th Anniversary of the Texas Film Awards, Badu arrived at the event in a customized hazmat suit spray-painted with the Louis Vuitton logo in an ombré black and red. The outré look was decontamination chic, or as Badu put it, “social distancing couture.” Designed by the artist herself—and paired with sky-high feather and fringe boots—the one-of-a-kind piece was the talk of the evening.

Few would take the initiative to design personalized protective gear. Still, Badu’s fashion moments are less about testing out trends and more about getting her audience to think outside the box. Whether that means helping to popularize talismans and amulets in the late ’90s, starring in a Givenchy ad, or supporting fellow artists in her online store, the result has always resulted in new forms of expression. Her hazmat fashion moment is a creative way of addressing the fears and legitimate concerns people are dealing with in connection to the coronavirus outbreak.

While not the first celebrity to lean into the concept—Naomi Campbell breezed through LAX in a microporous coverall earlier this week—Badu’s look approaches the issue with a new level of inventiveness. We’ll have to wait a few months to see if Nicolas Ghesquière fills the runway at Vuitton with surgical masks and plastic gloves, but in the interim, Badu has provided a winning example of how high fashion can brighten a bleak situation. You can’t help but smile while watching her Instagram videos from the evening or seeing photographs of her dancing with presenter Parker Posey. In a moment when the news is frightening, and the response from government officials continues to be less than inspiring, uplifting creativity isn’t just nice—it’s necessary.

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