Lil Nas X raised some eyebrows during the BET Awards with an outfit that may have featured a reference to a popular Naruto antagonist.
The "Call Me By Your Name" rapper appeared on the red carpet in an outfit created by designer Andrea Grossi. The outfit is done in the style of a dress from the Victorian era, featuring a corset top and a skirt bottom with large panniers. Kotaku points out that there is more to the dress than that, as the design on the outfit features something that should be familiar to Naruto fans: the face of Pain, the leader of Akatsuki and one of the series' most powerful villains.
Pictured clearly in the upper right section of the skirt is a man's face. With the same number of nose and ear piercings and Pain's iconic stoic expression, it seems very likely that the god-like shinobi was intentionally referenced on the dress. The headband appears to be missing the crossed-out symbol representing Amegakure, the Village Hidden in the Rain, so while the figure isn't a direct recreation of Pain, it does still bear a very strong resemblance to the Naruto villain.
The outfit is part of Grossi’s “Welcome to Deusland” collection, which features themes that are very similar to the stated goals of Akatsuki and its members. The collection is meant to create a discussion surrounding "a future society and the future of human being [sic]." Grossi also gives an alternative interpretation to the collection: "In Deusland man approaches being "God"; he creates himself and what surrounds him."
The themes of the collection are similar to the philosophy embodied by Pain, a man who was given god-like powers by the Rinnegan at birth and who sought to achieve peace through the domination and destruction of the shinobi world. The Rinnegan gives Pain the ability to manifest his powers through others, or as Grossi puts it, “what surrounds him.” This immense power is why Pain is revered as a god within the Village Hidden in the Rain.
Grossi has yet to comment on the resemblance, but the character of Pain seems to be the very embodiment of the themes of the collection. Anime has become a pervading element of popular culture over the last few years, with popular rappers like Megan Thee Stallion, Lil Uzi Vert and many more making references to anime in their songs, so it’s no surprise that anime influences can now also be seen in the world of red-carpet fashion.