The 90s were phenomenal for a number of reasons. Gothic and hip hop fashion were at their prime, mobile phones were becoming an actual thing and black women were collaborating constantly on songs that are classics even today. In fact, the 90s for females in hip hop and RnB was rather groundbreaking (although we won’t deny that Spice Girls will always have a special place in our hearts). When throwing it back to the 90s, the one woman whose fashion sense and musical influence we must acknowledge is none other than Missy ‘Misdeameanor’ Elliott.
Back in the mid-90s, Missy Elliott worked so closely with Timbaland that they helped to bring iconic women such as Aayliah onto our music systems as well as girl band Total. By the time it came to releasing her next few albums such as Supa Dupa Fly, Da Real World and Miss E… So Addictive, Missy Elliott was responsible for creating some of the best award-winning music of our time with people such as Tweet, Lil’ Kim, 702, Nicole Wray and even Beyoncé. Missy Elliott had the ability to make her sound seem sexy, without appearing overly sexualised
Aside from her friendships with Aaliyah and Timbaland, Missy Elliot’s personal life was always kept very personal. Growing up in Portsmouth, Virginia her childhood was painfully difficult with an abusive father but this pain was hardly ever brought into the music she created but helps us to understand why the solidarity of women appeared to be such a core part of her public persona. She spoke with her words as well as overdramatic productions from directors such as Hype Williams that added to the Missy Elliott charm that we always knew had a dash of psycho bitch. However, the style that Missy Elliott brought to the table during the 90s and early 00s is what added to her symbolic and bold charm. Let us not forget the video for her first single ‘The Rain’ where she rocked several trends in just a few minutes. First there were the gold hoops, overly gelled hair and then the trash bag. This video prepared us for the fact that Missy Elliott was not like all the other women we had seen on TV or would go on to see after. Missy Elliott was pretty much a creative genius that embraced the extreme.
Where else do we start but with her Adidas collection that would make the ever-so-trendy bloggers of today green with envy. Of course people such as Run DMC and Oasis were making a collaboration between music and Adidas a notorious trend, but amongst women Missy Elliott made it her thing and ran all the way with it. Adidas tracksuits on women, superstars and the whole Sports Luxe style that reflected a less gender specific role was thanks to people such as Missy Elliott. She made fashion cool, quirky and more importantly, she made it reflect her identity at the time she was living in.
Branding your face through a spray painted illustration wasn’t cool, until Missy Elliott did it. That’s what a fashion leader does; they take the step of putting forward the most absurd fashion choices that shouldn’t work. When she wore a pink velour Adidas tracksuit, with white socks and white superstars along with a pink fluffy flat cap, it shouldn’t have worked. Although this look will forever make her the “Worst Dressed at the Grammy’s” we wouldn’t want Missy Elliott to dress any other way. It worked because she exuded a tomboy-chic style that we all knew was what made her feel comfortable. If she paraded down the red carpet with all her goodies hanging out then that would really be a fashion faux pas, but this, this was Missy Elliott saying ‘f*ck you’ to her critics, ‘I’m gonna wear a velour tracksuit down the red carpet, and I’m gonna win a Grammy whilst doing it’.