2013: The Year Of The Designer Track

The 2013 Versace Family: Migos, Drake, Lady Gaga, and Donatella.
Photo: Getty Images/Versace/Quality Control Music

The intersection and overlap of music and fashion is nothing new. In fact, it’s the very foundation on which MTV Style exists (without it, I’m pretty sure we would implode on ourselves in a flurry of glitter, which would be pretty…but very, very sad *whimpers*). It’s been an exciting year for our favorite cultural cross section, with each side informing the other countless times, from designers tapping musicians for campaigns to musicians revealing their own designs. But the phenomenon we enjoyed the MOST this year? The designer track. That is, a track inspired by a specific designer or label, usually featuring the fashion house’s name in the hook.

Sure, we’ve seen these in previous years—Kreayshawn’s “Gucci Gucci” and Soulja Boy Tell ’Em’s “Louis Vuitton” in 2011, Kanye West’s “Christian Dior Denim Flow” in 2010, Jennifer Lopez’s “Louboutins” in 2009, and so on—but the sheer volume of songs dedicated to fashion darlings in a year amplified by the earworm “and we’ll never be roooooyaaaaals” is SUPER interesting and worth a closer look.


Appropriately, the string of 2013 designer tracks began with the genre’s poster child: Migos’ “Versace.” The Zaytoven-produced fashion anthem was first introduced to the world on their 19-track mixtape, which was released in early June. It was already blowing up in the trio’s hometown of Atlanta, but when Drake uploaded his own remix of the song to the OVO blog on June 22, it went viral.

With its killer beat and infectious hook, “Versace” took the summer by storm with, like, a bajillion other artists—Angel Haze, Frank Ocean, Meek Milladding their own remixes to the pot. It wasn’t until September 30, though, that we finally got visuals for the now-ubiquitous “Medusa head on me like I’m Illuminati” banger, equipped with a real jungle cat, human-sized chess, thousands of dollars worth of vintage Versace threads (that Migos has told us they bought to keep for themselves after the shoot), and a Donatella look-alike. It was WELL worth the wait.


We’re pretty sure he means “vintage.”
Photo: Rostrum Records

Shortly after the initial Drake-fueled pickup of “Versace,” Wiz Khalifa released his own designer track: “Old Chanel” featuring Smoke DZA. He tweeted the video on June 24, and while the song didn’t revel in quite the same glory as “Versace,” it was timed with the reveal of Wiz’s newest album title, which helped amplify it, if even a little. Also, by “old,” we’re pretty sure he means vintage, but agree that adding the extra syllable just doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.


The shirt speaks for itself.
Photo: @kodaklens’ Instagram

With the July 4 release of his Magna Carta…Holy Grail came Jay Z’s “Tom Ford,” perhaps the only designer track to rival the popularity of “Versace.” There are a number of factors at work here:

1.) Hov is colossally famous, and the “Tom Ford” track appeared on his first solo album in four years. A ceremonious release like that immediately attracts attention.

2.) This wasn’t an empty co-sign. Jigga has been a longtime fan and supporter of Tom Ford, wearing the American designer on red carpets and for his feature in Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie” video. Ford even made teeny-tiny heels for Jay’s daughter, Blue Ivy!

The adoration, of course, is mutual, as Ford has admitted that he was “completely flattered” by the mention, telling Billboard, “I mean, come on, who would not want a Jay Z song named after them?”

Released officially as a single on September 26, “Tom Ford” has since taken on a life of its own, even without a music video (so far). Its catchy refrain—”I don’t pop M**** / I rock Tom Ford”—has incited much speculation about its meaning, from not wanting to sweat in designer duds (valid) or a perceived elitism over trap rap in the juxtaposition (maybe) to comical conspiracy theories (LOL).


Despite Dolce & Gabbana’s legal woes this year, Riff Raff still prefers ladies who rep the label and made that explicitly clear with a track named after the Italian design duo. Not only did Jody Highroller release the single on September 18, but we got the video right away, too! As expected, it was chock full of hilariously absurdist visuals, like a model wearing what looks to be a Fendi handbag as a hat and Riff Raff chasing a girl while clad in a full-body skeleton costume. Not the Neon Icon’s first designer track (he released another titled after Marc Jacobs in 2010), we imagine this is not the last fashion-focused song for the H-Town MC. #blueberryjones


Spent the check with Ferragamo.
Photo: DCMA Collective

Waaaaay less widely known than anyone else on this list, Chicago rapper Ebone Hoodrich—one-half of Bag Money Boys—released an under-the-radar designer track called “Ferragamo” this year. The beat is skittish, the melody is bright, and despite (or maybe because of?) the slight mispronunciation on the hook, it’s sorta kinda really charming. Plus, before “Ferragamo,” Ebone appeared on an episode of Candidly Nicole to help the always funny (and fashionable) Nicole Richie write a rap song, and to play hype man on the track to her Nikki Rich alter ego. In case you were wondering, it ended up being about getting hair cuts via house calls (bangs for the summer!) and making gluten-free spaghetti.


Besties and mutual muses: Donatella Versace and Lady Gaga.
Photo: Getty Images

Finally, assuming no one else releases another designer track before the dawn of the new year (ATTN musicians/record labels: Seriously, please don’t, because the synergy of this story arc is too good, and I don’t want to make any updates, kthxbai), it’s only fitting that 2013’s streak of fashion favoritism ends with the very same house it began with: VERSACE. The formal announcement of Lady Gaga’s “Donatella” came on August 23, but we didn’t get to actually hear the song until ARTPOPwas released on November 6.

The Donatella x Gaga friendship has been a love affair we’ve been following for years, so that it came to fruition in a song comes as no surprise. “’Donatella’ is my love letter to Donatella [Versace],” Gaga told Just Jared. “The song is an incredible crazy fun pop song with really raising electronic beats that I did with [producer] Zedd. It’s about being a fearless female and not caring what people say about you—being proud of who you are and walking the walk no matter what.”

As with the Jay Z x Tom Ford matchup, the mutual adoration is real, and the song takes on extra special meaning in light of the news that Lady Gaga will be the face of Versace’s spring 2014 campaign. “I am honored that my friend Lady Gaga is the face of our new Versace campaign,” Donatella told The Independent. “I wanted to capture her true beauty and spirit in images that are elegant and alluring. She is like family to me, the embodiment of the Versace DNA.”

Versace. Versace. Versace Versace.

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