Style Points is a weekly column about how fashion intersects with the wider world.
When the 50th anniversary of hip-hop came around this summer, Sowmya Krishnamurthy, like so many fans, made the pilgrimage to Yankee Stadium to watch artists like Slick Rick and Big Daddy Kane being honored. “I love seeing the legends getting their flowers,” she says. Still, for the longtime music journalist and author of the new book Fashion Killa: How Hip-Hop Revolutionized High Fashion, there was a disconnect.
The anniversary celebrations, and the media blitz that accompanied them, “focused a lot on the old school, and we didn’t really see a huge emphasis on aesthetics and style, especially as it relates to luxury fashion.” Yes, classic images of Run-DMC in their Adidas tracksuits were everywhere, but with Fashion Killa, Krishnamurthy hopes to expand our understanding of hip-hop’s impact on and interplay with fashion beyond those much-circulated moments.
Growing up in Kalamazoo, Michigan in the ’90s, Krishnamurthy felt a bit removed from the hip-hop scene then flourishing on the coasts. But after school, glued to MTV and BET, she’d follow the scene, and the fashion, watching Lil’ Kim’s “Crush on You” video on repeat. “The wigs and the fur, the makeup, just everything being so playful and fun and ostentatious!” she enthuses. “Imagine seeing those images over and over again for months on end. We were almost self-brainwashing and fully inundated with the style.”