Rappers and hip-hop stars clad in designer clothing and accessories may be a common sight nowadays, but it was not always the case before. Two decades ago, one of the greatest artists to ever grace the industry has been pivotal in establishing the long and remarkable relationship between music and high fashion. Today, we’re given a chance to grab a piece of history that belongs to fashion as much as it does to music, although for a limited amount of time. The item in question is the Medusa sunglasses from Versace, popularized in the ‘90s by no other than Biggie Smalls.
Notorious B.I.G., born Christopher George Latore Wallace, may have been taken away too soon at the age of 24, leaving behind only two studio albums (one released after his death), but his impact on the industry remains felt today, and his sense of style is remembered just as fondly. When it came to his street garb, Big Poppa was easily ahead of his time, not shying away from bolder choices from head to toe. This includes the Versace sunnies that are now best associated with him, due in part to his wearing them on almost every occasion he can get. The specs were remarkable for the gold Medusa on the frames, which not everyone has the face, or the guts for that matter, to wear.
Biggie has been pictured countless times with the Versace sunglasses, but his love for them has even made its way into his lyrics. He has mentioned them in not one, but two songs from the artist’s very limited discography. In “Hypnotize”, Biggie sings “Miami, D.C. prefer Versace”. In “One More Chance”, he makes a more direct reference to them by saying “I’m clocking ya, Versace shades watching ya”. Music videos for both songs see him sporting the sunglasses, with the golden Medusa by the temples screaming for attention.
Biggie has more than just a superficial appreciation for the brand. When he was still around, he often attended Versace’s fashion shows in Paris. Donatella even gives him credit for helping the label gain wider recognition back in the ‘90s. In 2011, Donatella acknowledged knowing the rapper personally, saying “He always used to talk so nicely about my family. I think he was so smart, so intelligent. He had such a mind. So I loved what he was doing and how he was giving people a way to know about Versace—I do think he was giving people a way to know about Versace—I do think a lot of people started to know about Versace because of him.”
Spotted on Tyga and 2 Chainz, the shades can now be yours courtesy of Versace. The Italian fashion house has reissued the sunglasses as part of its recent Clan collection, and is available to cop at Barneys for a month after October 8. They have been updated accordingly to appeal to modern tastes, now with frames that are hexagonal in accordance to the very trendy Matrix sunglasses, although they still come with a low-lens design. The shades sell for US$295, both online and otherwise.
Image credits: Getty Images, Versace, IMGArcade, Disposed Mind, XXL