Last week, Versus Versace finally unveiled its much-anticipated collaboration with the musician (and former One direction member) Zayn Malik in a campaign starring Malik himself and Bella Hadid—supermodel of the moment and, conveniently, Malik’s girlfriend Gigi Hadid’s sister. Rife with on-trend athleisure and bomber jackets, the collection is also punctuated with the “ZXV” logo—for Zayn x Versus—a constant reminder of the unexpected partnership.
For now, the 40-piece capsule collection is the sum total of Malik’s collaboration with Versus Versace, but, in a new interview with Vogue, Malik explained unequivocally his design ambitions don’t end here.
“This is not the last time I will design,” he said. “Working with Versace made sense because I had a long relationship with the brand. It felt natural.”
Indeed, Malik has been welcomed into the Versace fold, likely due in no small part to Gigi Hadid’s close relationship with designer Donatella Versace. (“Donatella is a G,” Malik said recently; Versace has said she was drawn to Malik because of how well he treats Hadid.) Versace dressed the couple for 2016's Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute gala, including sheathing Malik in robot-inspired arm plates, and Hadid (and her sister Bella) are both regular fixtures on the runway at Versace’s ready-to-wear, couture, and Versus shows.
Malik—who is by no means giving up music in favor of fashion—has already explored other design avenues, releasing a collaboration with footwear designer Giuseppe Zanotti earlier this year and a 23-piece collection under his own name. And unlike many celebrity-designer collaborations, Malik’s work with Versus Versace has been entirely hands-on—Malik is both the face of the brand and its creative director. Versace, approving Malik's foray into design, told the New York Times Malik is “smart to do it with me”—and the musician seems to agree. “Donatella and her team are incredible to work with, and I was so inspired that the ideas just ran. She inspired me to be true to myself and my personal style, and I’ll never forget that,” he gushed in this new interview.
Versus Versace tapped Malik as creative director late last year, following the departure of designer Anthony Vaccarello to Saint Laurent. In an interview at the time, Donatella Versace hinted she might collaborate with other musicians in the future, because the rocker aesthetic is so integral to the Versus brand—she cited live performances by the likes of the Foo Fighters, Lenny Kravitz, and even Prince as evidence. “We always called Versus the ‘Rock Soul of Versace,’” she explained. Malik, as a musician himself, shared these references: “Fashion came hand in hand with music for me,” he told Vogue. “I have always loved the style of iconic British punk musicians because they were so anti-culture, and it felt like a real statement.”
But neither Malik nor Versace have said this is the end of their collaboration. So who’s to say Zayn Malik isn’t the next Anthony Vaccarello?
Bella Hadid, a bubble bath, and Jenga—what more could you want?