10 Women Rappers Who Are Fearless in Fashion, From Lauryn Hill to Nicki Minaj
There’s no denying hip-hop’s impact on the world of fashion. From birthing some of our favorite trends (think Dapper Dan’s logomania) to artists actively working in the industry, like Pharrell Williams, who serves as Louis Vuitton’s menswear creative director, the relationship between hip-hop and fashion is unmatched. While several male rappers have made a significant impact, including Kanye West‘s Adidas partnership and A$AP Rocky’s ambassadorship at Gucci, we’d be remiss to forget the women artists who’ve influenced the game even more.
Throughout hip-hop’s five-decades-long existence, women powerhouses have fearlessly broken barriers in a then-male-dominated genre. Stars like MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, and Salt-N-Pepa laid the foundation, with thought-provoking lyrics and hits that challenged society’s view of women in rap, such as “U.N.I.T.Y.,” “Ain’t Nuthin’ but a She Thang,” and “Lyte as a Rock.” It didn’t take long for them to transition from expressing their values musically to sartorially, with baggy silhouettes and statement-making pieces like Latifah’s kufi hats and Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It” jackets.
Rappers who dominated the ’90s followed suit, including Missy Elliott and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes of the R&B group TLC. From the onset of their success, Lopes sported extremely oversize clothing, from Wu-Tang-branded gear to overalls decorated with condoms that promoted safe sex. Meanwhile, Elliott gravitated to more unconventional outfits, most notably the black, vinyl Michelin Man-inspired suit she wore for her “The Rain” video in 1997, styled by June Ambrose. Suits remain a staple in the rapper’s wardrobe, from Adidas tracksuits and Kangol hats at award shows to the gold sequined suit she wore for her Essence cover in June.
Lil’ Kim’s contribution to the industry is just as unforgettable, as she took the world by storm in a cheetah-print lingerie set on the cover of her debut album, “Hardcore,” which shifted hip-hop women’s style from a tomboy aesthetic to the bold, alluring look we see today. Working with stylist Misa Hylton, she became a fashion icon with a streak of eye-catching outfits, including bra tops, thongs, and furs. Of course, you can’t forget the jaw-dropping lilac jumpsuit she wore to the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards that bared one of her breasts in a pastie, long before your everyday celebrity was going braless. The “Crush On You” rapper’s influence is indeed visible today, from Nicki Minaj’s Barbiecore, Prabal Gurung moment at the 2019 Met Gala to Megan Thee Stallion’s cutout Defaïence gown at the 2023 CMT Music Awards.
Keep scrolling to bask in some of the most iconic moments from powerful women in rap, old and new.