Stylist Misa Hylton Breaks Down Lil' Kim's Iconic Chanel Looks

Stylist Misa Hylton Breaks Down Lil' Kim's Iconic Chanel Looks
Lil' Kim introduced me to Chanel. My grandmother didn't wear it. My mother didn't wear it. But Lil' Kim did.
When Kim started adorning herself in Chanel, it was the 90s when Karl Lagerfeld was the brand's creative director. Lagerfeld designed collections in concert with what was happening in the world, and Kim—maybe unbeknownst to Karl—was a reflection of that world. She was a symbol of powerful femininity and showed how hip-hop could lend brands a specific cachet they couldn't get on their own—whether they wanted it or not. Only a few years before Kim’s first album, Hard Core, was released.
Kim created many of these looks with Misa Hylton, her famed stylist, who unintentionally built a blueprint for how many black female artists present themselves to the world—Beyoncé emphasized that when she recreated Kim's looks for Halloween in 2017. Over the years, Hylton has styled artists including Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliott, and Sean "Diddy" Combs, who she shares a child with.

We weren't thinking! We were just doing," said Hylton when asked about working with Kim. "When you saw us wearing things, they were our own. There was no such thing as pulls and studio services that we’re able to do now."

Here, Hylton discusses the stories behind Kim's Chanel outfits, her and Kim's relationship with the brand, and what she thinks about the design mistakes luxury brands are making.

How did you start working with Lil' Kim?
Biggie Smalls started a label with his friend Lance "Un" Rivera, and it was Undeas, and Junior M.A.F.I.A. was signed to the label. At that point, I had a lot of success with Mary J. Blige, and it was sort of like we were in the same family. They became extended family, so naturally, when it was time to come up with an image for Kim, Big and Un thought of me.

What were your initial thoughts about what her image should be?
I thought that she was a dope lyricist, and I didn't have any preconceived ideas about what she should be. I don't style from that place. I style from a place of connecting with the client, finding out what the goals are from the label and management, but really connecting with her, artist to artist. Then, from that point, the ideas just flow for me. It's always a co-creation.


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