Lil Nas X has solidified his role in fashion. He has become the ‘provocateur’, a title that was never self-prescribed but imbued with his character through his works. The infamous ‘Satan shoes’ that caused an uproar in the Spring of 2021 pushed boundaries in a way that only the great Alexander Lee McQueen would understand, reportedly containing a drop of human blood in the sole of every shoe. His back-to-back appearances, at the Met Gala gilded in Versace armour, opulent Balmain pearls, and victorian Andrea Grossi gowns have positioned him as a force to be reckoned with on the red carpet. And now, in a new film by Petra Collins for Coach, Nas finds himself reflecting on a legacy that although just beginning, has the potential to mark him as one of history’s greatest fashion and music legacies.
To be expressive and unrestricted is not an easy feat, yet Nas finds himself in that lane with every intricate detail of his universe.
Titled ‘Courage to Be Real’, the film finds the new Coach global ambassador in a dream-like state that follows his life and cascades through his moments in time.
“This campaign represents everything I’ve overcome so far,” Nas notes in the brand’s press release. “It’s about walking into new chapters of life, new experiences, and new versions of myself, and it’s rooted in authenticity and self-expression — two things I really care about.”
The film opens with an aerial shot of Atlanta’s suburbs, a familiar site and home to Nas. His recent single ‘STAR WALKIN’ lightly fades into the background while his words, which encapsulate everything he is and represents in his work, flash across the screen. “My whole career has been about breaking down doors” his statement reads, before he quite cheekily steps through the door-shaped gateway, dressed in a white tank and drop-crotch denim, emblematic of the style and trends surrounding him during these early days in his life.
As the scene cuts and he opens a new door to a band room, familiar to those who understand the ideogrammic architecture of public schools, we see his style take a shift, now dressed in a traditional varsity jacket with an oversized silhouette, and the letter “C” emblazoned on the front breast. It feels more modern, combining trends derived from New York styling of the Nineties; the shoulders dropped further and the waist a bit longer than the traditional jacket.
In many ways, this is what the collection represents, blending Nas’ world and ethos into the history and iconography of Coach.
“My vision for Coach has always been to create a fashion world where people feel free to express themselves as they are,” notes Coach Creative Director Stuart Vevers. “To bring this vision to life, I was thrilled to bring Lil Nas X and Petra Collins together with Coach for the first time — two artists who have changed the world around them by being themselves.”
In the last few scenes, we see Nas step into the person the world currently knows him as — confident, strong, and unabashed. “At Coach, we want to inspire people to have the confidence to express themselves and explore all of who they are — to have the courage to be real,” states Sandeep Seth, Global CMO and North America President of Coach, and reflected in the film, as Nas hands his doppelganger a leather jacket as if to instigate a self-aware turning point. His ego is now stronger and more self-aware than ever before.
As a final act, he lands on stage in a pale peony pink suit and floor-length fur coat, a crowd of hundreds of thousands set before him, a declaration of his present and his future.
“The campaign we are introducing today is the first chapter of our Courage to Be Real mission, and the embodiment of the values Coach has championed for generations,” Seth closes in the press release. “Created with Lil Nas X, an artist who has courageously paved new paths for others, the film tells the story of the challenges many of us face in our journeys of self-discovery, and how belief in yourself and a willingness to take risks can inspire others to do the same.”
This article first appeared on RollingStone.com