Colin Tilley


Director Colin Tilley is making the move from rap to fashion.

The award-winning Berkeley, Calif., native is best known for his work directing Rihanna and DJ Khaled’s “Wild Thoughts” and Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” music videos. But lately, the 29-year-old has cultivated a new interest: working on brand campaigns. His latest is a video for Balmain x L’Oréal’s collaboration, a line of 12 matte lipstick shades that will drop internationally on Sept. 25. In the video, a stacked roster of today’s biggest names stomp around Paris with Olivier Rousteing in tow, his deep dimples and silken voice floating into the frame amid a backdrop of multicolored lights and the refrain “read my lips.”

Because brands are so open to a new kind of creative direction for video, Tilley has begun splitting his time between music-related videos and work for companies. His foray into fashion began in 2015, when YSL reached out with a request to direct their L’homme fragrance advertisements.

“They wanted to take a risk,” Tilley said. “They were willing to take somebody like me, who is sort of in this box of only making videos for musicians. They had a very clear vision of what they wanted, but they looked to me to create a world that would combine fashion, brands — and music.”

His move is indicative of fashion’s heightened interests in both video and rap. This past New York Fashion Week saw Future and Teyana Taylor performing at the Philipp Plein show and Cardi B and Offset of Migos at nearly every event.

Even though, historically, fashion has drawn deeply from rap culture, Tilley stated a “pure crossover” is certainly happening now.

“People are putting all the best brands and the best artists together to create an amazing product that’s much more universal,” he said. “We get interesting talent you wouldn’t usually see in one of these campaigns.”

Plus, he added, commercials in general are taking a more cinematic approach due to the heightened level of interest in video — especially since the work is social media-friendly.

For now, Tilley is relaxing in Los Angeles, where he’s based. He’s just coming off the end of a Beats by Dre and DJ Snake shoot, which also went down in Paris. The film consists of a live stream that Tilley shot for four days straight in which the DJ mulls his journey from Île-de-France beginnings to stardom. In the end, Snake performs at the top of the Arc de Triomphe.

Next up: another campaign. Tilley plays coy on which label it will be for, but in his words, “It’s gonna be another cool, international, cologne for men.”

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