Twenty-two many years is not a extensive everyday living, but it was long sufficient for Aaliyah to make an indelible influence on music, lifestyle, and, potentially most recognizable in day to day everyday living, fashion. This week marks 20 decades due to the fact the singer’s tragic dying in a airplane crash, nonetheless her sartorial affect is palpable as ever.
A Brooklyn indigenous born Aaliyah Dana Haughton in 1979, the singer was raised in Detroit and quickly rose to prominence adhering to the launch of her debut album, Age Ain’t Very little but a Selection, in 1994. Her audio was unlike nearly anything the entire world experienced at any time heard—smooth, pitch-fantastic vocals layered around futuristic hip-hop and R&B beats—and was matched with an innate expertise for dance, integrated into her cinematic tunes videos. The titular song of Aaliyah’s sophomore release, Just one in a Million, is greatly regarded as one of the finest hits of all time, and given that the debut of her remaining studio album, Aaliyah, it’s believed that she’s sold between 24 and 32 million albums globally. Expanding the vary of her career, she started to set up herself as an actress, starring alongside Jet Li in the 2000 motion movie Romeo Need to Die and actively playing the guide in Queen of the Damned, launched posthumously in 2002. Aaliyah usually garnered as significantly interest and praise for her style as she did her do the job. Her wardrobe of oversized silhouettes, bra tops, bandanas, and tinted sun shades the two elevated and redefined what’s oft regarded a “tomboy” look—one which is continue to referenced these days.
“I was observing MTV when the ‘Back & Forth’ video clip premiered, so I have that memory of experience like it was the initially day that anybody experienced Aaliyah,” writer and journalist Kathy Iandoli, whose biography, Little one Girl: Improved Known as Aaliyah, was unveiled before this thirty day period, states. “I remember she was putting on the bandana, and she experienced on the shades and then, she experienced on the layered tops with her midriff [exposed] and the dishevelled jeans and the huge belt. I was just like, ‘This is the coolest man or woman to ever wander earth.’”
Like Iandoli, stylist Derek Lee also remembers looking at Aaliyah’s “Back & Forth” video clip and marveling at her model and demeanor. “Her style was correct up my alley, so which is why she stood out to me,” Lee tells BAZAAR.com. “I assumed she was dope.” Two yrs later, in 1996, Lee was traveling from Los Angeles to New York Metropolis for get the job done when his agent bought a phone from Aaliyah’s document label inquiring if he was accessible to demonstrate her some pieces for an future shoot prior to he left the magazine was trying to place her in attire that simply weren’t her. “I showed her some things, and she cherished it,” he suggests. “I obtained on my airplane, [and] by the time I landed [in NYC], my agent was like, ‘You have to get correct again on a airplane tomorrow morning, due to the fact she would like you to do her ‘One in a Million’ online video.”
For the video clip, Lee styled Aaliyah in leather-based parts he found at sexual intercourse shops on Christopher Avenue (the only outfits stores that have been still open up when he obtained in late at evening) and a racing suit that was shipped same-working day air from an NYC showroom the future morning it arrived on established in L.A. a couple several hours immediately after Lee did. From that working day on, the two turned close buddies, collaborating on dozens of now-popular looks. “I achieved her 1 working day, the following day I was her stylist,” Lee claims.
Though pleated skirts and slinky slipdresses had been getting sent down runways and showcased in the webpages of trend journals at the time, Aaliyah was seamlessly mixing the streetwear trends born in city communities with her very own perception of design and style. “She added her touches to everything,” Lee says, “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 didn’t invent the masculine-satisfies-feminine aesthetic, “but she perfected it,” he states. “I observed it in other people’s songs movies, and I unquestionably noticed it in the streets.”
Aaliyah’s job coincided with the emergence of brands such as Little one Phat, Enyce, Rocawear and Sean John—all birthed from the influential hip-hop and R&B circles she was within. “My favourite Aaliyah search is her in the ‘Crush on You’ online video,” Iandoli says, “where she’s carrying the huge Tommy [Hilfiger] jacket, and she has the shades on.” She adds, laughing, “I bought that coat—of program, it appeared practically nothing like that on me.”
Tommy Hilfiger tapped Aaliyah for its Tommy Jeans ad marketing campaign in 1996, which marked the brand’s foray into womenswear. Aaliyah was the to start with R&B singer solid in a campaign of that caliber, and the bandeau best, saggy denims, and uncovered boxer briefs she wore in the advertisement grew to become instantly iconic. Two decades later on, Destiny’s Baby wore numerous iterations of the glimpse together with Hilfiger at a Macy’s occasion in New York Metropolis, and in modern several years, the two Zendaya and Yara Shahidi have replicated it in homage to Aaliyah.
Although considerably of her wardrobe was casual—and she wore a ton of streetwear pieces that Lee custom made for her—at occasions, Aaliyah gravitated toward luxury labels. Armani was a most loved, as was Dolce & Gabbana, the residence behind the mesh diamante bra she and Lee paired with a matching choker and minimal-slung belt more than leather-based trousers for the “Try Again” video in 2000. That same yr, she wore what’s arguably her most celebrated red-carpet look to the MTV Video New music Awards: a black-and-yellow zebra-print Roberto Cavalli dress from the label’s fall 2000 selection.
Lee was on family vacation in Europe when he got a get in touch with from his agent expressing that Aaliyah needed to be dressed for the function. Somewhat than slice his journey small, Lee went to the Roberto Cavalli retail store in Milan, picked a couple of parts that he preferred, and known as the Roberto Cavalli boutique in New York Metropolis to have them pull these identical appears and established them apart for his assistant to decide on up. “I imagined the yellow was great for her,” he says. “It stood out much more than any of the other hues.” While there had been various dresses for her to select from, Aaliyah instantly gravitated toward Lee’s most loved and finished up carrying it. Like several of her fashion alternatives, that wasn’t the past time it was viewed the world more than and met with fanfare. Design Paloma Elsesser had stylist Eric McNeal monitor the costume down for a wedding she attended previously this year, and quickly verified that the sartorial nod to Aaliyah was intentional.
Accurate to its cyclical character, vogue is at the moment revisiting the dominant developments 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 mirrored her affect. Right now, baggy pants and a crop prime is the off-duty glance of alternative for Hailey Bieber, Bella Hadid, and some others. Likewise, tinted sunglasses and bra tops that crisscross at the midriff are once once again wildly well-known. Experienced she lived longer, it’s probably that Aaliyah’s very own designs would be trending as nicely. At the time of her death, she was performing on a Japanese-motivated garments line coined Dolly Pop with her most effective pal, Kidada Jones.
It may not be doable to articulate the whole breadth of Aaliyah’s affect on trend, but her legacy has no doubt transcended time, resonating with several generations across the globe. Her design and style specially resonated with women and females who, like her, did not want to be confined to clothes that have been small, tight, and regarded as historically female. Aaliyah gave them license to dress in exaggerated proportions, as a result allowing for them to be themselves extra freely and confidently.
“Growing up as a Brown, South Asian woman from the late ’80s to early ’90s, I was these a tomboy,” Sandy, who lives in the United Kingdom and prefers to go by her initially title, tells BAZAAR. “My mom tried out to make me use dresses, and I just merely refused. Aaliyah had those tomboy tendencies, too, and it gave me comfort and ease understanding I wasn’t by itself as a female rising up.” In 2013, Sandy started the enthusiast internet site Aaliyah Archives, which has considering the fact that developed to incorporate an Instagram account with 18.6 thousand followers. Yet another Instagram account, @aaliyahwore, was made earlier this thirty day period by Philip Wallin of Västerås, Sweden, and focuses only on Aaliyah’s model. “I cherished how she was not concerned to include factors that ended up distinct or quirky in her seems to be,” Wallin states, “like her signature Yohji Yamamoto sun shades.”
This desire in her is no surprise to people who understood her perfectly. “She was so unique and authentic,” Lee claims, “and people gravitate in the direction of that. It never ever goes out of style.”
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