On the lookout Again at Aaliyah’s Eternal Impact on Style, 20 Many years Later on

20-two yrs is not a prolonged life, but it was lengthy adequate for Aaliyah to make an indelible effect on new music, culture, and, potentially most recognizable in day to day lifestyle, trend. This week marks 20 yrs due to the fact the singer’s tragic loss of life in a airplane crash, yet her sartorial influence is palpable as at any time.

A Brooklyn indigenous born Aaliyah Dana Haughton in 1979, the singer was raised in Detroit and immediately rose to prominence subsequent the release of her debut album, Age Ain’t Almost nothing but a Amount, in 1994. Her audio was as opposed to something the globe experienced ever heard—smooth, pitch-perfect vocals layered more than futuristic hip-hop and R&B beats—and was matched with an innate talent for dance, included into her cinematic audio video clips. The titular track of Aaliyah’s sophomore release, One in a Million, is commonly regarded as just one of the finest hits of all time, and due to the fact the debut of her closing studio album, Aaliyah, it is approximated that she’s bought in between 24 and 32 million albums throughout the world. Increasing the variety of her job, she began to build herself as an actress, starring along with Jet Li in the 2000 action movie Romeo Will have to Die and taking part in the lead in Queen of the Damned, released posthumously in 2002. Aaliyah frequently garnered as substantially consideration and praise for her fashion as she did her perform. Her wardrobe of outsized silhouettes, bra tops, bandanas, and tinted sun shades the two elevated and redefined what is oft regarded as a “tomboy” look—one that’s nevertheless referenced right now.

“I was observing MTV when the ‘Back & Forth’ video clip premiered, so I have that memory of sensation like it was the initial day that any person experienced Aaliyah,” creator and journalist Kathy Iandoli, whose biography, Baby Female: Greater Identified as Aaliyah, was produced earlier this month, states. “I don’t forget she was wearing the bandana, and she experienced on the shades and then, she had on the layered tops with her midriff [exposed] and the dishevelled jeans and the significant belt. I was just like, ‘This is the coolest human being to at any time walk earth.’”

Aaliyah performs on The Tonight Demonstrate with Jay Leno in 1997.

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Like Iandoli, stylist Derek Lee also remembers looking at Aaliyah’s “Back & Forth” movie and marveling at her style and demeanor. “Her type was right up my alley, so which is why she stood out to me,” Lee tells BAZAAR.com. “I thought she was dope.” Two yrs later on, in 1996, Lee was traveling from Los Angeles to New York City for function when his agent got a phone from Aaliyah’s document label inquiring if he was out there to demonstrate her some parts for an forthcoming shoot before he still left the magazine was attempting to put her in dresses that basically weren’t her. “I showed her some stuff, and she cherished it,” he says. “I got on my aircraft, [and] by the time I landed [in NYC], my agent was like, ‘You have to get appropriate back again on a aircraft tomorrow morning, due to the fact she wishes you to do her ‘One in a Million’ video clip.”

For the online video, Lee styled Aaliyah in leather pieces he observed at sexual intercourse stores on Christopher Road (the only outfits retailers that were still open up when he received in late at night time) and a racing match that was delivered identical-day air from an NYC showroom the subsequent early morning it arrived on established in L.A. a couple hours right after Lee did. From that day on, the two turned near mates, collaborating on dozens of now-renowned appears to be. “I met her just one working day, the future working day I was her stylist,” Lee claims.

aaliyah file photos

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Even though pleated skirts and slinky slipdresses have been being despatched down runways and showcased in the webpages of trend magazines at the time, Aaliyah was seamlessly mixing the streetwear tendencies born in city communities with her very own perception of style. “She additional her touches to anything,” Lee suggests, “especially with the bandanas that was all her. [When] it was time for her to elevate, we went in the direction of Chanel scarves and Fendi scarves—stuff like that.” Lee notes that Aaliyah did not invent the masculine-satisfies-feminine aesthetic, “but she perfected it,” he claims. “I saw it in other people’s songs video clips, and I unquestionably saw it in the streets.”

Aaliyah’s occupation coincided with the emergence of brand names these kinds of as Child Phat, Enyce, Rocawear and Sean John—all birthed from the influential hip-hop and R&B circles she was inside of. “My beloved Aaliyah appear is her in the ‘Crush on You’ video,” Iandoli says, “where she’s donning the big Tommy [Hilfiger] jacket, and she has the shades on.” She provides, laughing, “I bought that coat—of training course, it seemed almost nothing like that on me.”

Aaliyah seems in Lil’ Stop and Lil’ Kim’s “Crush on You” audio video (1997).


Tommy Hilfiger tapped Aaliyah for its Tommy Jeans advertisement 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 top, dishevelled jeans, and exposed boxer briefs she wore in the advertisement grew to become immediately iconic. Two yrs later, Destiny’s Child wore a variety of iterations of the appear together with Hilfiger at a Macy’s event in New York Town, and in new a long time, both equally Zendaya and Yara Shahidi have replicated it in homage to Aaliyah.

Nevertheless a lot of her wardrobe was casual—and she wore a large amount of streetwear parts that Lee customized for her—at instances, Aaliyah gravitated towards luxury labels. Armani was a favored, as was Dolce & Gabbana, the dwelling at the rear of the mesh diamante bra she and Lee paired with a matching choker and lower-slung belt more than leather pants for the “Try Again” video clip in 2000. That same yr, she wore what is arguably her most celebrated crimson-carpet glimpse to the MTV Video clip Songs Awards: a black-and-yellow zebra-print Roberto Cavalli dress from the label’s tumble 2000 selection.

Lee was on holiday in Europe when he obtained a connect with from his agent indicating that Aaliyah essential to be dressed for the function. Rather than slice his excursion small, Lee went to the Roberto Cavalli retail outlet in Milan, picked a couple items that he favored, and identified as the Roberto Cavalli boutique in New York Metropolis to have them pull individuals same seems and set them aside for his assistant to choose up. “I considered the yellow was great for her,” he suggests. “It stood out additional than any of the other colors.” While there have been several attire for her to pick out from, Aaliyah right away gravitated towards Lee’s beloved and ended up carrying it. Like lots of of her fashion choices, that wasn’t the last time it was found the world around and achieved with fanfare. Model Paloma Elsesser experienced stylist Eric McNeal observe the costume down for a wedding day she attended before this calendar year, and promptly confirmed that the sartorial nod to Aaliyah was intentional.


KMazurGetty Photos

Correct to its cyclical nature, fashion is currently 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 influence. These days, baggy pants and a crop best is the off-duty look of decision for Hailey Bieber, Bella Hadid, and other individuals. Similarly, tinted sun shades and bra tops that crisscross at the midriff are after once more wildly popular. Experienced she lived extended, it is very likely that Aaliyah’s very own models would be trending as properly. At the time of her loss of life, she was operating on a Japanese-influenced apparel line coined Dolly Pop with her very best pal, Kidada Jones.

It may possibly not be probable to articulate the whole breadth of Aaliyah’s impact on manner, but her legacy has no question transcended time, resonating with various generations throughout the world. Her style in particular resonated with ladies and women who, like her, did not want to be confined to outfits that have been short, tight, and regarded historically feminine. Aaliyah gave them license to costume in exaggerated proportions, therefore allowing for them to be themselves a lot more freely and confidently.

“Growing up as a Brown, South Asian woman from the late ’80s to early ’90s, I was these types of a tomboy,” Sandy, who lives in the United Kingdom and prefers to go by her first name, tells BAZAAR. “My mother attempted to make me have on attire, and I just basically refused. Aaliyah had those tomboy tendencies, as well, and it gave me comfort knowing I wasn’t alone as a girl expanding up.” In 2013, Sandy started the enthusiast web site Aaliyah Archives, which has since grown to involve an Instagram account with 18.6 thousand followers. One more Instagram account, @aaliyahwore, was designed before this thirty day period by Philip Wallin of Västerås, Sweden, and focuses only on Aaliyah’s model. “I loved how she was not frightened to include matters that have been various or quirky in her seems,” Wallin states, “like her signature Yohji Yamamoto sunglasses.”

This fascination in her is no surprise to these who realized her very well. “She was so primary and authentic,” Lee says, “and people today gravitate to that. It never ever goes out of model.”

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