A recent Lisa Cortés and Farah X film covers the intersection between fashion and Hip Hop
By Taya Coates | Contributing Writer
At the center of any musical artists’ career is style. Outfits for award shows and music videos are meticulously chosen because of the power they hold. An artist can completely mold their image by what they wear. While the stars wear the garments, those that carry the responsibility of styling are generally hidden from public view. Their hard work ends up on the front page of the latest celebrity gossip magazine, but usually only with credit to the designer. The faces that are truly picking what is “hot or not” for artists are rarely discussed on large scale platforms, if at all.
Released on Netflix in July 2020, the documentary The Remix covers just that. In just over an hour, the film highlights the Black designers and stylists behind some of the most notable looks of the past few decades that changed fashion forever.
The film focuses on Misa Hylton, best known for being the celebrity stylist to clients like Lil’ Kim and Mary J Blidge from the beginning of their careers. Many are familiar with her lavender pasty design that Lil’ Kim wore to the 1999 VMA awards. This was so influential that it was copied by many stars afterward and was even sold as a costume at popular retailer FashionNova last fall (Morgan,2019). She discusses her bittersweet career story, and how despite the notoriety of her looks, she faced difficulties due to race and losing creative control to record companies once her clients achieved stardom.
Other legendary figures from the ’90s, including designer Dapper Dan and April Walker of Walker Wear, tell their stories and discuss the impact their work had on the fashion world of today. Newer voices in the film include award-winning designer Kerby-Jean Raymond of Pyer Moss and the first woman to be Publishing Director at British Vogue, Vanessa Kingori.
Not only did these designers and stylists reinvent their clients, but they gave high fashion to the streets. They introduced rappers like B.I.G. to brands that did not design for or market their clothes to POC. Stylists took these brands and made them their own. Youth from New York City to L.A. who looked up to these rappers added their own personal style and created streetwear as we know it today. The beautiful counterculture to high fashion is now the main inspiration for collections of some of the biggest fashion houses. Sneakers are on every runway from Louis Vuitton to Gucci. At their foundation, these brands were the opposite of streetwear or anything casual. These revolutionary designers and stylists did not settle for the exclusion from the industry and were the largest factor in solidifying streetwear’s position in fashion.
In an interview at the Woodstock Film Festival, co-producer Lisa Cortés explained the essence of the film by saying, “style can be used as an expression of self for some people… but what we’ve seen historically is that it has been used as a device in African-American culture to be an extension of our culture” (Woodstock FilmFest, 2019). The Remix beautifully tells a story of innovation, perseverance, and expression that has been overlooked for decades.
Tune in on wherever you watch Netflix today!
Morgan, Glennisha. “Fashion Nova Sells Costume Inspired By Lil Kim’s Famous Purple Pasty From 1999 VMAs.” Mix 99.5 WJBR, Mix 99.5 WJBR, 22 Oct. 2019, mix995wjbr.com/2019/10/22/fashion-nova-sells-costume-inspired-by-lil-kims-famous-purple-pasty-from-1999-vmas/.
Woodstock FilmFest. [Woodstock Film Festival]. (2019, October 9). Woodstock Film Festival 2019 | The Remix: Hip Hop x Fashion [Video]. YouTube.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_C_G_OO1D4