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Photo illustration by Claire Smight.

A Madonna T-Shirt with a Kanye West-Adjacent Cosign

Chris Black

The designer of West’s Life of Pablo merch brings us a wild Madonna shirt.

Photo illustration by Claire Smight.

In the dead of summer, I traveled to Los Angeles to interview the artist and designer Cali Thornhill DeWitt for An IDEA Book About T-shirts by Stüssy. At his studio, we sat down over room temperature LaCroix's to discuss our shared love of t-shirts. Thornhill DeWitt is best known for The Life of Pablo merchandise he designed with Kanye West, but I was much more interested in his large-scale digital prints, and of course, his renowned taste in t-shirts. He excitedly told me about a small company from Chicago called Boot Boyz, whom I had never heard of, but whose website got me very psyched. The shirts are an intelligent mish-mash of all influences: they combined Massive Attack, Elizabeth Fraser, and Jeff Buckley into one single shirt!

You can literally put on the Ritts. Photograph courtesy of Chris Black, who wrote the very column you're reading right now.

Earlier this year, Thornhill DeWitt & Alexis Ross collaborated with Boot Boyz on a shirt that celebrates famed photographer Herb Ritts. Ritts is best known for his work with celebrities--in particular for helping introduce the supermodel era of the 1990s--and his black and white portraits often mimicked the style of Greek sculpture. The shirt itself is WILD. The prints are big, the text is red, and the back features a giant picture of Madonna with the word "Notorious" scrawled across the bottom like it was written in lipstick. Yes, of course I bought it! I have a problem, and the first step is admitting it. The second is to remind you that like all the best t-shirts, it will age nicely. After all, you're literally "putting on the Ritts."

The back of this wild shirt. Another photograph courtesy of—wait for it—Chris Black.

Herb Ritts tells the nightly news in 1990 about Madonna how "she's 150% in front of the camera."