Hip Hop Turns 50: 'Fresh, Fly And Fabulous' NY Fashion And Music Exhibition Celebrates The Milestone

New York's Museum at FIT is celebrating 50 years of hip-hop style with a truly awesome exhibition: Fresh, Fly, and Fabulous: Fifty Years of Hip Hop Style. 

This is the first time the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), an internationally recognized leader in career education in design, fashion and business, has ever hosted an exhibition showcasing fashion through a music genre. 

Over 100 garments and accessories made by designers and brands like Dapper Dan, Misa Hylton, Karl Kani, FUBU, Baby Phat and more worn by the likes of LL Cool J, Missy Elliott, Aaliyah, Cardi B.

The exhibition was co-curated by the associate costume curator Elizabeth Way and journalist and assistant chair for marketing communications at FIT, Elena Romero. 

“As a fashion historian, it is important to highlight  aspects of fashion culture that are not generally known or are misunderstood. Hip-hop style is such an influential  part of American fashion, and in turn,  international fashion,  but this is not always recognized,”  Way told ESSENCE. “Hip hop style is also so much more diverse than people realize.” 

Sean Diddy Combs

The fashion lifestyle company, Sean John, created by music mogul and now cannabis mogul Sean Diddy Combs held a top spot at the exhibition. Diddy, who recently closed a $185 million deal in November to acquire cannabis assets from Cresco Labs CRLBF and Columbia Care CCHWF, married the idea of hip-hop and mainstream fashion according to Way.

Diddy was also the first Black designer to win the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2004, beating out such stalwarts as Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors. “So he did a lot to change the mainstream fashion industry on 7th Avenue from this very stereotypical style that mainstream fashion looked on when they thought of hip-hop fashion,” Way added.

Romero called hip-hop fashion "real fashion" that has been downplayed for so long because it's casual, denim and came from the world of youth. “So many young Black and brown people from the communities were marginalized because of what they wear, how they wear it. And most importantly, it's not just men's fashion," she told NPR. "Women have always been and will continue to be part of this fashion legacy. And today, it's the women that are the muses of the most luxurious designers of the world.”

Eleanora Kennedy, former co-owner of High Times magazine along with her husband and legendary civil rights attorney Michael Kennedy, is a graduate and now a board member of FIT. She attended the exhibition opening with her granddaughter Ava.

"The history connects me to the early years of High Times magazine when a steady stream of Hip Hop artists came through. It was style and politics, music and poetry. I brought my granddaughter for a trip down memory lane,” Kennedy told Benzinga. “It’s crucial for young people to understand the impact hip-hop had on music culture as well as politics over the past five decades and this exhibition is doing just that.”

Fresh, Fly, and Fabulous: Fifty Years of Hip Hop Style is on view through April 23, 2023 and it’s free and open to the public.

Photo of event poster: Jameel Shabeez

 

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