When Zendaya was told that the second chapter in her collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger would be staged in New York City, there wasn’t a doubt in her mind where the show had to take place. “Zendaya suggested the Apollo. That felt right,” Hilfiger said before the show on Sunday night. “It’s full of music history and cultural history. I’ve always wanted to perform at the Apollo, but I didn’t know it would be this, which is pretty fucking cool,” Zendaya smiled. “You can feel the energy in the air when you step in here. The other day I had to take a second and step out of my body for a little bit and just realise where I was.” The Apollo Theater is the legendary Harlem venue where the likes of Diana Ross, James Brown and The Jackson 5 played some of their most memorable gigs in the 1960s and seventies. For Zendaya and Hilfiger, it epitomised the seventies character that embodies their collaboration.
“It’s a celebration of all the people who really made it possible for me to be here and do this,” Zendaya said, minutes before the outdoor lot behind the Apollo was transformed into the streets of Harlem in the seventies and filled with a jazz orchestra and singers interpreting the music of the decade. “It’s about opportunities. It’s about opening doors,” Zendaya reflected of the diversity-driven show, which celebrated the individuality and self-expression of the generation she represents, seen through the eyes of the seventies. “It’s also about paying tributes and saying thank-you to those who opened doors for me,” she noted. For Hilfiger, the show felt nostalgic and acutely contemporary all at once. “There’s something heart-warming about the music, the vibe, the attitude,” he said.
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“It was a political fashion revolution. The summer of Woodstock was fifty years ago. This is when all the musicians of note came together and played together in front of hundreds of thousands of hippies, who were really against the Vietnam War and looking for peace, love and happiness, and at the same time getting arrested for marijuana and being looked down upon by the police and their parents because they had long hair and beards and beads and fringes. Now, fifty years later, marijuana is legalised and the music continues in different genres like hip-hop, which is the most important music in the pop culture field today. Fashion is always evolving and changing but we think it’s a perfect time to really embrace the seventies.”
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23-year-old Zendaya, whose role in the hyper-confrontational teen drama Euphoria has made her one of the most relevant young actors right now, said that the empowering values of her collaboration with Hilfiger are representative of her generation’s outlook. “There’s a misconception that my generation is self-involved; that they’re always on their phones. This generation is very smart, very bright, and really the hope for the future. I’m very lucky to be able to learn from my peers, who educate me. When I hear them speak sometimes I’m like, ‘Oh shit, okay! I learned something today!’ I think there are so many bright young minds coming up and we’re in good hands,” she argued.
© Jamie Stoker
“It’s about the older generations not just being open-minded but listening to the younger generations and figuring out how they can help and cultivate and open their minds to uplift the younger voices rather than pretending they don’t exist. The most misconstrued thing is that we only think about ourselves. I think it’s quite the opposite.” Hilfiger pointed out that the young sense of wokeness that defines the Zendaya collaboration isn’t a new thing for his brand. “If I may say so, we’re very woke. We’re awake! And we have been for a really long time. People are talking about being inclusive, but we’ve been inclusive for a very long time. We’ve built a brand that appeals to everybody, not just a narrow segment of the population. Now we’re expanding our awakeness because we feel like nothing should hold us back.”
Author: ANDERS CHRISTIAN MADSEN