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Concepts Versace Chain Reaction
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How J.Lo Became Concepts' Muse for the Versace Chain Reaction

Date: July 27 2019

By: Gabe Filippa

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From the legendary Nike SB ‘Lobster’ to the ethereal Kyrie 5 ‘Ikhet’, Boston-based Concepts have been one of the most innovative collaborators in the sneakersphere since their inception in 1996. For their latest link-up, Concepts tapped Versace and their genre-busting silhouette: the Chain Reaction. The muse? J.Los iconic dress from 2000 Grammys

We caught up with Deon Point, the Creative Director of Concepts, to celebrate the launch of the collaboration. 

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What made Concepts want to revisit J.Lo in Versace in 2000? What was it about that moment that was so iconic?
All the boxes just checked off for us. We knew the print would carry over well with the break on the tongue alluding to the neckline of the dress, so the design element synergy was seamless in the way that it translated into a shoe design.

That moment was so iconic for a multitude of reasons – for us it’s digging through the details and attaching a story to it. At that time, it was the most popular search term on Google, and they were stumbling on how to give people the information they were looking for – so Google image search was created. You can say that the snowball effect of people looking for images in real-time led to platforms like Instagram and, in a way, how our world operates today. It was a fashion moment that changed the landscape of fashion forever, and one of the first instances where a fashion house has appealed to such a wide demographic – look where the cross of streetwear and luxury is today…

Are there any other moments from the Grammys you’d love to revisit?
The bar is set fairly high after this, so I would lean towards no.

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Why was the Versace Chain Reaction the right silhouette to immortalise the moment?
Salehe Bembury is just an extraordinary designer. I have the utmost respect for his willingness to think outside the box. The silhouette was just so different to anything in the marketplace; it’s abstract sculpture. It’s those moments for us that are challenges we look forward to, and working with designers and brands who think alike in that regard.

How did the initial idea take shape for Concepts?
The discussion started in late 2017, and we saw the first sample in May last year. Timing is everything, so we wanted to wait until a couple of key moments for Jennifer were occurring, and also what Versace could do to complement the launch. Often times the process is tedious, as there are so many moving parts, so while it just landed at retail it’s been on my desk for quite some time. It all worked in our favour as the 20th anniversary is upon us and, as luck would have it, a major tour is happening for her too.

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What was it like collaborating with a brand like Versace?
It’s equal parts nerve-racking and excitement. There’s a reason we were asked to become part of something this impactful, so our confidence superseded any concerns. Salehe had said from the beginning to do what Concepts does best, so we set out to do just that. There were a few ideas I had sent over that, in all honesty, were a bit too hard to read. This one, however, we agreed unanimously the proper direction and, once we signed off, the pressure had subsided a bit, allowing us to get in the groove. 

What’s changed in the way we consume fashion and sneakers now? Is there a sense of nostalgia in this colab?
It’s become so transactional, and the emotion attached to purchasing has evaporated. As it pertains to our approach here, we wanted to reintroduce a pivotal moment in not only fashion but pop culture. Nostalgia is best when it still appeals to a new generation. Keep in mind, back then high fashion wasn’t understood by middle America. This dress not only became the most popular searched item to date, but it redefined Versace and how they were perceived. The worlds of high fashion and streetwear were polar opposites back then, so you can imagine how foreign it was to everyone else.

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What’s been the most iconic moment for sneakers x celebrity in 2019?
There are far too many to choose from. I can hardly keep track, as these worlds have collided and are now a mainstay factor in how brands conceptualise and go to market.

Have you sent a pair to J.Lo?
We gave her a pair recently when she was performing in Boston. She’s on tour, and she’s promoting a new movie, so when she was in town I sent someone over to give them to her. I’m not sure when we’ll see them on her, but she was pretty psyched that we did the shoe in homage to such an iconic moment in her life.

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