20-two decades is not a long daily life, but it was extensive adequate for Aaliyah to make an indelible effect on tunes, lifestyle, and, possibly most recognizable in daily daily life, vogue. This week marks 20 yrs because the singer’s tragic dying in a plane crash, however her sartorial impact is palpable as ever.
A Brooklyn indigenous born Aaliyah Dana Haughton in 1979, the singer was elevated in Detroit and promptly rose to prominence following the release of her debut album, Age Ain’t Almost nothing but a Quantity, in 1994. Her sound was as opposed to something the world had ever heard—smooth, pitch-perfect vocals layered around futuristic hip-hop and R&B beats—and was matched with an innate talent for dance, incorporated into her cinematic audio films. The titular tune of Aaliyah’s sophomore release, 1 in a Million, is greatly acknowledged as just one of the finest hits of all time, and because the debut of her remaining studio album, Aaliyah, it’s approximated that she’s offered among 24 and 32 million albums around the globe. Expanding the range of her career, she commenced to build herself as an actress, starring along with Jet Li in the 2000 motion film Romeo Need to Die and participating in the lead in Queen of the Damned, produced posthumously in 2002. Aaliyah normally garnered as much attention and praise for her style as she did her operate. Her wardrobe of oversized silhouettes, bra tops, bandanas, and tinted sunglasses both equally elevated and redefined what’s oft thought of a “tomboy” look—one that’s continue to referenced these days.
“I was viewing MTV when the ‘Back & Forth’ movie premiered, so I have that memory of sensation like it was the 1st day that anybody skilled Aaliyah,” creator and journalist Kathy Iandoli, whose biography, Child Lady: Greater Acknowledged as Aaliyah, was produced earlier this month, suggests. “I bear in mind she was putting on the bandana, and she had on the shades and then, she had on the layered tops with her midriff [exposed] and the dishevelled jeans and the big belt. I was just like, ‘This is the coolest man or woman to at any time stroll planet.’”
Like Iandoli, stylist Derek Lee also remembers viewing Aaliyah’s “Back & Forth” movie and marveling at her fashion and demeanor. “Her type was correct up my alley, so that is why she stood out to me,” Lee tells BAZAAR.com. “I believed she was dope.” Two yrs later on, in 1996, Lee was traveling from Los Angeles to New York Town for work when his agent acquired a contact from Aaliyah’s record label asking if he was readily available to display her some items for an approaching shoot prior to he remaining the magazine was attempting to set her in dresses that simply just weren’t her. “I showed her some stuff, and she liked it,” he claims. “I received on my aircraft, [and] by the time I landed [in NYC], my agent was like, ‘You have to get proper again on a aircraft tomorrow early morning, because she needs you to do her ‘One in a Million’ movie.”
For the online video, Lee styled Aaliyah in leather-based parts he uncovered at sex retailers on Christopher Street (the only clothes outlets that were nevertheless open when he bought in late at night time) and a racing match that was shipped same-working day air from an NYC showroom the upcoming early morning it arrived on set in L.A. a few hrs soon after Lee did. From that working day on, the two became close buddies, collaborating on dozens of now-well-known appears to be. “I achieved her a person day, the upcoming working day I was her stylist,” Lee states.
Even though pleated skirts and slinky slipdresses have been currently being despatched down runways and featured in the web pages of vogue magazines at the time, Aaliyah was seamlessly blending the streetwear developments born in city communities with her personal sense of model. “She included her touches to anything,” Lee claims, “especially with the bandanas that was all her. [When] it was time for her to elevate, we went to Chanel scarves and Fendi scarves—stuff like that.” Lee notes that Aaliyah did not invent the masculine-meets-female aesthetic, “but she perfected it,” he states. “I observed it in other people’s audio movies, and I undoubtedly noticed it in the streets.”
Aaliyah’s job coincided with the emergence of brand names this kind of as Child Phat, Enyce, Rocawear and Sean John—all birthed from the influential hip-hop and R&B circles she was in. “My favored Aaliyah look is her in the ‘Crush on You’ online video,” Iandoli says, “where she’s wearing the huge Tommy [Hilfiger] jacket, and she has the shades on.” She provides, laughing, “I bought that coat—of training course, it appeared nothing like that on me.”
Tommy Hilfiger tapped Aaliyah for its Tommy Jeans advert marketing campaign in 1996, which marked the brand’s foray into womenswear. Aaliyah was the 1st R&B singer forged in a campaign of that caliber, and the bandeau major, baggy jeans, and uncovered boxer briefs she wore in the advert grew to become instantaneously legendary. Two yrs afterwards, Destiny’s Kid wore various iterations of the glimpse along with Hilfiger at a Macy’s celebration in New York Town, and in modern many years, each Zendaya and Yara Shahidi have replicated it in homage to Aaliyah.
Though considerably of her wardrobe was casual—and she wore a good deal of streetwear items that Lee personalized for her—at instances, Aaliyah gravitated toward luxurious labels. Armani was a favourite, as was Dolce & Gabbana, the property driving the mesh diamante bra she and Lee paired with a matching choker and reduced-slung belt about leather-based pants for the “Try Again” online video in 2000. That identical 12 months, she wore what is arguably her most celebrated purple-carpet glimpse to the MTV Video clip Songs Awards: a black-and-yellow zebra-print Roberto Cavalli dress from the label’s slide 2000 assortment.
Lee was on vacation in Europe when he bought a call from his agent saying that Aaliyah needed to be dressed for the celebration. Relatively than slash his trip limited, Lee went to the Roberto Cavalli shop in Milan, picked a couple of items that he preferred, and termed the Roberto Cavalli boutique in New York Metropolis to have them pull all those exact looks and set them aside for his assistant to select up. “I thought the yellow was great for her,” he suggests. “It stood out extra than any of the other colours.” Although there were numerous attire for her to opt for from, Aaliyah quickly gravitated towards Lee’s favored and finished up putting on it. Like lots of of her fashion decisions, that wasn’t the last time it was found the entire world about and met with fanfare. Design Paloma Elsesser experienced stylist Eric McNeal track the gown down for a wedding ceremony she attended earlier this calendar year, and speedily verified that the sartorial nod to Aaliyah was intentional.
Genuine to its cyclical character, vogue is at this time revisiting the dominant tendencies of the late ’90s and early 2000s—some popularized by Aaliyah—both on and off the runway. Shayne Oliver’s Hood by Air and Helmut Lang collections, Alexander Wang—particularly with his T line—and, unsurprisingly, Tommy Hilfiger collaborations with Gigi Hadid and Lewis Hamilton have all reflected her impact. Now, baggy trousers and a crop leading is the off-duty search of alternative for Hailey Bieber, Bella Hadid, and some others. Similarly, tinted sunglasses and bra tops that crisscross at the midriff are as soon as once more wildly well known. Experienced she lived more time, it is possible that Aaliyah’s have styles would be trending as nicely. At the time of her death, she was operating on a Japanese-impressed clothing line coined Dolly Pop with her most effective good friend, Kidada Jones.
It may possibly not be doable to articulate the full breadth of Aaliyah’s impression on fashion, but her legacy has no doubt transcended time, resonating with numerous generations throughout the world. Her fashion particularly resonated with women and girls who, like her, did not want to be confined to clothing that were being small, limited, and regarded as ordinarily female. Aaliyah gave them license to costume in exaggerated proportions, thus letting them to be on their own more freely and confidently.
“Growing up as a Brown, South Asian lady from the late ’80s to early ’90s, I was these kinds of a tomboy,” Sandy, who life in the United Kingdom and prefers to go by her initial title, tells BAZAAR. “My mother tried using to make me put on dresses, and I just only refused. Aaliyah experienced individuals tomboy tendencies, way too, and it gave me consolation figuring out I wasn’t by itself as a female expanding up.” In 2013, Sandy launched the admirer web page Aaliyah Archives, which has because grown to include an Instagram account with 18.6 thousand followers. A further Instagram account, @aaliyahwore, was developed previously this thirty day period by Philip Wallin of Västerås, Sweden, and focuses only on Aaliyah’s type. “I beloved how she was not scared to incorporate points that had been distinct or quirky in her seems,” Wallin claims, “like her signature Yohji Yamamoto sun shades.”
This fascination in her is no surprise to those who realized her effectively. “She was so authentic and genuine,” Lee says, “and individuals gravitate in the direction of that. It by no means goes out of design.”
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