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Fly at 50: New fashion exhibit celebrates 50 years of hip-hop style

Fresh, Fly, and Fabulous: Fifty Years of Hip Hop Style, installation view. Exhibition design by Courtney Sloane Design © The Museum at FIT

The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) has launched an exhibit at the FIT Museum in New York City for the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. Curators Elena Romero and Elizabeth Way showcase iconic hip-hop styles, including Aaliyah’s Tommy Hilfiger ensemble, Dapper Dan’s bomber jacket and Cardi B’s blinged-out nails.  

Hip-hop is considered to have originated in the Bronx at DJ Kool Herc’s house on August 11, 1973, and with this new genre came new, innovative styles. “This fashion is driven by the Black and Brown communities that came from marginalized backgrounds in New York at a particular time when hip-hop was in its infancy stage,” Romero tells ABC Audio.

Some of the styles that are commonplace throughout fashion today were born out of early hip-hop culture: baggy jeans, hoop earrings and sports jerseys are just a few. “One of the things we really wanted to drive home in this exhibition is that hip-hop fashion is American fashion,” says Way. “It has amplified so many movements… that affect how all of us dress today.”

A few recent fashions are also displayed, including Megan Thee Stallion’s MET Gala gown and Doja Cat’s “worm” dress. The newer generation of Black women, like exhibit visitor Tiana Phillips, say they feel pride when they look back at hip-hop fashion. “My people has always been fresh and fly and we’ve always been trendsetters, so this is amazing,” she says. “This is a little overwhelming, like looking at the history and everything. But, it’s beautiful.”

The exhibition is set to run until April 23.

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