Image Credit: Page Six
Twenty years after the high-fashion women’s streetwear brand made its debut, bringing with it an “unapologetically female perspective” to the streetwear world, Kimora Lee Simmons Leissner and Baby Phat are back to shake up the industry once more.
The highly anticipated launch of the summer aims to capture the sartorial nostalgia of the late 90s and early 2000s that drew in its OG customer and reintroduce itself to a new generation of young women. “I did expect [Baby Phat’s sexy style to come back], actually—fashion is so cyclical. I love being a part of this life cycle from the OG Baby Phat to our new, reinvented, modern take on the brand,” Simmons Leissner shared with Page Six. “It’s so fulfilling to see one generation squealing with nostalgia at the news of our relaunch, and another discovering the brand for the first time. I’m heartened that the original aesthetic found its way into the zeitgeist. That’s affirmation for me and a whole community of women who were underserved by fashion the first time around.”
Image Credit: WGN-TV
For its initial relaunch, Baby Phat collaborated with Forever 21 on a 17-piece collection that was released and available for purchase this morning. Choosing Forever 21 as a partner was a good strategy to capture the attention of the younger generation of women that BP aims to attain as customers. This is also a well-aligned partnership for Forever 21, as the fast fashion retailer has run into some issues with maintaining relevance with the rise of their online fashion competitors like Fashion Nova and Pretty Little Thing. With interesting design collaborations and capsule collections in their repertoire with brands like Hot Cheetos and USPS, Forever 21 definitely needed something that made more sense. The Baby Phat x Forever 21 collection features logo tees, bodysuits, bike shorts, one-shoulder crop tops, trendy separates and more, each piece co-designed by Simmons Leissner and daughers Aoki Lee and Ming Lee—a full circle moment, as Kimora’s daughters would always make an appearance on Baby Phat runways with her.
Image Credit: VIBE
Image Credit: Page Six
To the customer already familiar with Baby Phat, this Forever 21 collection offers nothing too special outside of the nostalgia and excitement of seeing the infamous logo after so long. It does, however, offer a familiar design aesthetic to the younger customer being introduced to Baby Phat and its aesthetic for the first time. A missed opportunity that stands out are the plus size offerings—there are only 3 pieces available for plus size women. Hopefully, there will be more thought for size expansion in the collections to come. We can anticipate Baby Phat ready-to-wear and accessories to be released in the fall, with denim, footwear and beauty products to follow thereafter.
For those unfamiliar with the brand or who just want to go down memory lane for a little while, Baby Phat by Kimora Lee Simmons was launched in 1998 and was one of the most significant streetwear brands of the period, becoming a billion-dollar company under the “Life in the Fab Lane” star’s creative direction. BP put the baby tee, the bedazzled jean, high-low fashions and its personal brand of logomania on the map. It was sexy, feminine and disruptive in the best way possible; all of the girls wanted to be apart of the Baby Phat moment, even before knowing what the brand was really about. BP’s runway shows and presentations were the spectacle to see. They were over-the-top and fabulous; the front rows were star-studded; and KLS was dedicated to a diverse set of models before it was the cool thing to do. Baby Phat was an empire, a decade-defining brand, a movement—it brought a feminine perspective to the male-dominated streetwear market. At the time, streetwear presented offerings of variations of tall tees, baggy pants and oversized clothing of all varieties. BP presented a stark alternative, designing pieces that were curve-hugging, form-fitting and made by women, for women. With a product offering of clothing, accessories, shoes, fragrances and bedazzled cellphones, Baby Phat was everywhere!
Image Credit: Baby Phat, CR Fashion Book, Elle, Ebony, Garage
Two decades later, the former model and philanthropist is prepared to build upon the energy, significance and impact that Baby Phat held in its prime. In an interview with Fashionista, Simmons Leissner’s spoke of the cyclical return of 2000’s style, her relationship with her Baby Phat customer, her dedication to women of color and women of all shapes and sizes, changes in the streetwear industry, her impact on the industry and more. When discussing her background in high fashion, —more specifically, her time as a Chanel model and Karl Lagerfeld’s muse—it was clear that she was inspired a great deal by the French fashion house. She references Chanel and its reputation when talking about the high fashion perspective she brings to Baby Phat. Fashionista’s Jessica Yarbrough writes that the BP creative director and designer is “positioning Baby Phat for Forever 21 as Chanel for a new generation while clad in a body suit emblazoned with an illustration of a cat and leopard-print bike shorts—an oufit that totals a whopping $35.80,” highlighting that the positioning is an easy concept to dismiss. After thinking about the concept, she came around to the idea of Simmons Leissner as the new Coco Chanel and the connections followed: Coco Chanel gave women a casual alternative to the corseted couture in 1910 made from men’s jersey fabric, and KLS gave women streetwear tailored for a woman’s body in 1999; Chanel gave the fashion world the Little Black Dress, and KLS brought the baby tee to the table; and just as Chanel launched fragrances and handbags, KLS did the same.
Whether you agree with this comparison or not, one fact is undeniable: Kimora Lee Simmons Leissner changed the conversation surrounding women’s streetwear. Baby Phat definitely paved the way for a lot of the style aesthetics we’re seeing come back in style today. With the positioning that the model-turned-designer is seeking to establish, it goes beyond this Forever 21 collaboration. Baby Phat as a brand and what it represented for women is the legacy that is being built upon twenty years later. Not many can pick up and garner attention like this. Kimora Lee Simmons Leissner is a phenomenal businesswoman, and she’s definitely about to make a powerful statement with this relaunch. From the upcoming collections, we expect nothing less than “fabulosity!”
Every year, fashion’s veterans and aficionados gather to celebrate the rising stars and icons in fashion at the event affectionately known as the Fashion Oscars—the CFDA Awards. One of the industry’s most significant events, the CFDA Awards shed light on fashion’s talented newcomers and current power players as well as gives flowers to iconic figures that have made a substantial impact within the industry and beyond.
The CFDA Awards have been known to garner some attention. From snubs and lack of true diversity and representation to last year’s social media frenzy surrounding Kim Kardashian’s Influencer Award.
This year’s attention-grabbing headline from the upcoming awards ceremony is the news that singer, dancer, producer and actress Jennifer Lopez will be honored with the CFDA Fashion Icon award. The news set fashion twitter ablaze, with opinions on whether J. Lo deserved the honor or not being split down the middle.
Image Credit: Instagram / @cfda
The news broke Tueday morning (4/16) via the Council of Fashion Designers of America Instagram page, announcing that the CFDA Board of Directors would be giving the “Jenny From The Block” singer the Fashion Icon award for her “longstanding and global impact on fashion.” In a statement regarding the announcement, Chairwoman Diane von Furstenbury had this to say: “Jennifer Lopez uses clothes as a way to express confidence and power. Both designers and fans look forward to her fashion statements.” Also sharing his praise for the Fashion Icon recipient was the CFDA president and CEO Steven Kolb: “Jennifer Lopez’s style is bold, uninhibited, and always memorable. Designers, including many of our CFDA Members, love to dress her for both stage and private moments.”
The organization credited the “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” singer’s fashion impact to her numerous show-stopping red carpet looks, on-stage performance fashion moments and music videos that have been cemented into pop culture world history. Upon receiving this highly coveted award, Lopez will join the ranks of previous honorees Pharell, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Naomi Campbell and the late Franca Sozzani.
Praise and exclamations of those in favor of the CFDA’s latest Fashion Icon recipient flooded social media, referencing noteworthy red carpet moments and influential music video style moments—elements that found their way into closets and street style inspiration all over the world. The most referenced red carpet moment from the Maid in Manhattan actress was the iconic Versace tropical leaf silk chiffon plunging dress that she wore to the 2000 Grammys. The moment surrounding the dress was a moment of cultural significance because, up to that point, the red carpet fashion for women was fairly tame. J. Lo in that dress literally broke the Internet.
Image Credit: Page Six / Popsugar
Executive Chairman of Google Eric Schmit in an essay in January of 2015 highlighted that this moment was the most popular search Google had ever seen at the time, but there was no way for Google users to get the specific image of J. Lo in the Versace dress. From there, Google Image Search was born! Pretty iconic moment. Other notable fashion fan favs were her fur-trimmed baby pink coat in “All I Have,” the pink velour short set in “I’m Real” (the girls always love a good [velour] set), the bikini top + baggy pant combo from “If You Had My Love,” and the tank + cargo pant + Timberland heel moment from “Jenny from the Block.” The latter example was definitely a popular example of J. Lo’s impact on street style—this look was seen duplicated everywhere. A recent credited style moment comes from this year’s Oscars red carpet—Lopez wears a fitted, long-sleeved mosaic mirror tiled Tom Ford gown, one that got a lot of people talking. Designers like Tom Ford, Donatella Versace, Zuhair Murad and Balmain are some of the signature partners that have aided in crafting her signature look over the years. The “Medicine” singer is the embodiment of sexy chic, is no stranger to the curve-hugging garments and the naked dress trend (one that she is a key player in) and is known for a high slit + exposed thigh moment. The Selena actress has definitely had fashion moments and has an unquestionable sense of personal style. That much is undeniable.
Image Credit: Bustle
Image Credit: People
Image Credit: Bustle
Honorable mention: J. Lo at the 2000 VMAs | Image Credit: Who What Wear / Us Weekly
Image Credit: Daily Mail
Those on the other end of the spectrum who aren’t in favor of the newest Fashion Icon recipient feel that, while J. Lo has her moments, she hasn’t established enough of a range to be able to hold such a title. Though J. Lo’s most significant example of impact began with that 2000 Grammys Versace moment, no other fashion moment from the multi-hyphenate artist hit quite like that one did. What moment topped or came close to that one? Many question Lopez’s true impact on fashion, making the point that her [red carpet] fashion choices are in large a revolving door of similar Zuhair Murad gowns for countless appearances (or just the same type of gown for that matter, lacking any real style variety). Familiar with the infamous Aretha Franklin “Uh…great gowns, beautiful gowns” GIF? That might be more accurate embodiment of J. Lo’s contribution to fashion. Mentions of the cultural impact surrounding the infamous Versace dress have been the most common example of her impact, but many want to know what else can Lopez be credited with. When you take away that moment, what else is left? Credits were made to her music video style and her apparently putting hoop earrings, fur-lined collar bomber jackets, Going Out tops and French manicures on the map. Her repertoire of fashion and style moments almost reads like a credentials list for a Video Vanguard award rather than a Fashion Icon award. This is a good place for a gentle reminder that J. Lo was awarded the Video Vanguard Award at last year’s VMA ceremony, an incident that also sparked conversations that Missy Elliot was much more deserving. On a related note, I noticed a lot of people who would’ve preferred Lil Kim be honored with the Fashion Icon award, for her unwavering fashion impact that can still be seen very clearly within the fashion and music industries. Lil Kim changed the image of the female rapper. She did so with the help of her stylist Misa Hylton, ushering in another leg of the conversation of black individuals who are so deserving of recognition for their contributions to the fashion industry but are often overlooked—Hylton, June Ambrose, Andre Leon Talley. These are just a few names of the true arbitrators of style and immaculate taste, running the show behind the scenes and really deserve so much more, but I digress. That’s a topic to dive deeper into on a different day.
There is much to be debated—and much that has been debated—on whether or not Jennifer Lopez truly deserves the title of Fashion Icon. Nevertheless, on June 3, the “Waiting for Tonight” songstress and recent Pretty Little Thing collaborator will claim and take home this prize. Major congratulations are in order for J. Lo in receiving this award from the fashion industry.
It’s now your turn to decide where you stand on this subject. Do you think J. Lo is a Fashion Icon or just knows how to wear a great garment? Was she a true innovator who carved a lane for sexy, chic fashion (especially on the red carpet) or did she and her team have a great handle on dressing for her body type and sticking to what worked for her?
If not J. Lo, who do you feel would be a great recipient for the Fashion Icon award?
Definitely share your thoughts. I would to hear what you all think!!
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