On February 8th, The Museum at FIT is celebrating 50 years of hip-hop style with a showstopping exhibition. This museum is dedicated to the art of fashion, and over the last five decades, hip-hop has given us unforgettable records and pop culture moments, but also fashion that is still relevant today, influencing brands and everyday people. Fresh, Fly, and Fabulous: Fifty Years of Hip Hop Style, co-curated by associate curator of costume Elizabeth Way and journalist and assistant chair for Marketing Communications at FIT, Elena Romero.
This will be the first time the museum has had an exhibition that showcases fashion through a genre of music, as we all know that hip hip is a culture not just a genre. “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. From athleisure, to logo-mania, sneaker culture, and streetwear, hip hop has shaped the clothing that everyday people wear. Hip hop style is also so much more diverse than people realize,” Way tells ESSENCE.
Over 100 garments and accessories will be on view at The Museum at FIT 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, and much more.
The exhibition is organized into sections: Designer Dreams, High Fashion Does Hip Hop, Collaborations, and Hip Hop in High Fashion — as hip hop has touched so many other avenues in fashion because the media, tv shows, movies, music videos, all were used to promote the music. Hip-hop has one of the greatest marketing tactics in the world.
Also, on February 8th, the museum will launch a digital guide on Bloomberg Connects alongside the exhibition, where you can go behind the scenes of the exhibition with interviews from hip-hop experts and even more details of the collection.
Romero told ESSENCE, “Hip hop became the ‘Black Panther’ of the fashion industry. It turned the fashion industry upside down and inside out. It forced diversity into an industry that had not attempted to see the value in hiring, designing, marketing, and celebrating people of color. It changed the face of the runway- from bald heads and braids, larger frames, and big booties to adding various shades of beauty. But most importantly, it spoke the language manufacturers, and retailers understood best—it made dollars and sense.” She believed in this project so much that she donated her own brass buckle belt nameplate, and her daughter donated her metallic blue Reebok 5411’s to be part of the exhibition.
Hip Hop’s legacy continues to live on, and even though it is still a relatively new genre, that doesn’t mean that innovation is done yet, and Fresh, Fly, and Fabulous: Fifty Years of Hip Hop Style proves that over any amount of time progress in Black culture is full of revolutionary ideas. “We wanted to present a comprehensive narrative that would incorporate the contributions of women and pioneering Black and Brown designers who helped expand the fashion industry with their denim-based brands,” says Romero.
Fresh, Fly, and Fabulous: Fifty Years of Hip Hop Style is on view from February 8, 2023, through April 23, 2023, at The Museum at FIT. The exhibit is free and open to the public.