After Boycotting Melania Trump, Designer Sophie Theallet Creates 'World Citizen' Campaign Starring Corinne Bailey Rae

Corinne Bailey Rae in Sophie Theallet's World Citizen Spring/Summer 2017 Campaign.
Henry Leutwyler

Corinne Bailey Rae in Sophie Theallet's World Citizen Spring/Summer 2017 Campaign.

Back in November 2016, French-born and New York-based fashion designer Sophie Theallet released an open letter detailing her refusal to dress first lady Melania Trump. Theallet stated that she and her brand value “artistic freedom and always humbly seek to contribute to a more humane, conscious and ethical way to create in this world,” a sentiment she urged fellow designers to preserve by boycotting the presidential family just as she had.

In response to the Trump administration, the designer continues her inclusive philosophy with a photo campaign for her spring 2017 collection titled "World Citizen." The campaign features 13 different women varying in ethnicity, age and religion and includes musicians like British R&B singer Corinne Bailey Rae, rapper Chynna Rogers and Bob Marley’s granddaughter, Selah Marley. Photographed by Henry Leutwyler -- who photographed the book Elvis by the Presleys -- and fashion photographer Tiziano Magni, the stark and minimal images are cinematic representations of Theallet's pieces and each individual personality. 

Below, Billboard gets to the core of Theallet’s inspiration for the campaign and the musical influences behind it. 

As a designer, you’ve been outspoken politically and have always stood by your beliefs. How do politics inform your work?

I never really cared about politics -- I care about everyone’s liberties. I’ve always strived to be true to myself, to be completely free in my thinking and how I feel and live. I refuse to be boxed in, and my work is a reflection of that.

How did your World Citizen SS17 campaign come to be?

World citizenship is my reality. All cultures have so much wealth, and it’s a waste and a shame to be closed-minded. My friends are diverse and we should share and value our cultures and stand together in our humanity. I wanted to express this truth through my fashion.

You’ve tapped talents from the music industry for your series -- Corinne Bailey Rae, Chynna Rogers and Selah Marley. What role does music play in style and fashion?

I have always loved music. My brother had a record store when I was young. I discovered fashion because of punk music and the clothes Vivienne Westwood and Malcom McLaren made -- it was a real movement. I listen to music all the time because it moves me and helps me create.

What about singer-songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae’s music and persona resonates with your World Citizen message? Why did you choose Rae?

I met Corinne a few years back and we instantly clicked. She embodies her music -- she is so genuine, poetic and generous. I love her so much for everything she is.


And how does Chynna Rogers embody your SS17 message?

Chynna is a free girl, she’s gorgeous yet she doesn’t play on her beauty to be famous and she is so talented. This is the spirit of my campaign: real people with real voices.


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