Before sourcing the "Crush On You" video as inspiration for her inaugural performance of BBHMM at the iHeartRadio Music Awards Rihanna unknowingly paid homage to rapper Lil Kim at another noteworthy event, the 2014 CFDA Awards. There, the Barbados native opted to wear a see-through Adam Selman dress made of 230,000 Swarovski Crystals. It stirred up tons of controversy and NSFW disclaimers on digital publications across the world wide web. However, in 1999, fresh off her debut album "Hardcore" going platinum Kimberly Denise "Lil Kim" Jones had donned a similar look for the then VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards.
"Oh Kim, she's my idol" the late Alexander McQueen uttered as he bowed to Brooklyn-born MC as she presented him with the Avant-Garde Designer of the Year award. Kim was wearing an areola bearing crop top; a slip less full length beaded skirt, high mid-calf booties and an adorned masquerade mask that resembled one seen in Mugler's F/W 1999 Haute Couture show. Her raunchy lyrics that boasted throwing lips to male genitals and "sexcapades" with some of R&B's most eligible bachelors landed her a spot in hip-hop history. Such graphic wordplay was unheard of coming from a female artist who had achieved some level of mainstream success. But, other than those explicit rhymes Kim embracing something else that was arguably unheard of and unseen from a female rapper, high fashion.
Out the gate "the first rap bitch to rock Chanel" delivered bars like "I used to wear Moschino, but every bitch got it. Now I rock colorful minks because my pockets stay knotted" and "Sippin Zinfandel, up in Chippendales Shop in Bloomingdales for Prada bags Female Don Dada hats". No high profile brand was excluded from Kim's rhymes. She took pride in self-proclaiming that she was the one who had folks rocking "the Prada The Gucci, Dior, Chanel, Versace and Louis [Vuitton]" in her song "Heavenly Father." The luxury brand plugs and fearless style choices opened up the door for Lil Kim to become a fashion girl. She was a front row fixture at Marc Jacobs, Jeremy Scott, Tommy Hilfiger and Betsey Johnson runway shows during New York Fashion Week. Kim became the face of the luxury Italian label Iceberg and landed a Mac Viva Glam ad campaign. She also gained the attention of Andy Warhol's Interview Magazine, covering the November 1999 issue completely nude, painted in the Louis Vuitton monogram print, as well as securing features in Vogue, Nylon, Paper, Out and Vibe magazine. This Grammy Award winning artist is arguably the pioneer of "ghetto fabulous" blueprint.
Inga DeCarlo Fung "Foxy Brown" Marchand, another female rapper whose debut project, "Ill Na Na" dropped just a week after Kim's, had her foot in fashion as well. John Galliano was a huge Foxy fan. When he took the helm at Christian Dior, he dressed the "dark skin Christian Dior poster girl" for the label's New York boutique opening. Galliano even called her "the most modern icon of the 21st century." Brown sat front row at Zac Posen and Marc Jacobs fashion shows, wore Manolo's and Norma Kamali and scored a Calvin Klein campaign but still, Kim's boundary pushing style had an edge that Foxy Brown couldn't match.
From the lime green fur donned during the No Way Out tour in New York to freeing the boob at the Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center for the VMA's, Kimberly Jones solidified herself as a fashion icon. However, when the fashion icon conversation arises rarely is she mention. She didn't make the cut for Time Magazine's All-Time 100 Fashion Icons or WhoWhatWear Top 20 Fashion Icons lists. Even now in 2015, her style from the 90s and early 2000s all of its ghetto fabulous-ness is inspiring Taraji. P Henson's wardrobe as Cookie Lyons on the hit show Empire. While Lil Kim's arousal provoking lyrics landed her in the conversation of being on of the most influential hip-hop artist of all times, her style choices have left her with the forgotten fashion icon title. Still, that acknowledgment technically gives her some fashion icon recognition after all, right.