As her new EP drops, this is why there will never be a style icon quite like Missy Elliott23rd Aug 19 | Beauty
Who else can pull off a look described as a ‘hip-hop Michelin woman’?
A whole 14 years after releasing her last album, Missy Elliott has released Iconology, along with a video for the single Throw It Back.
It comes at a pretty perfect time: on August 26 the 48-year-old rapper is going to be honoured with the the Video Vanguard Award at the MTV Video Music Awards.
The EP’s artwork is what we’ve come to expect from Elliott: bold and experimental, with Elliott wearing a regal jacquard coat and her braids spelling out ‘Missy’.
Writer, producer, dancer, rapper – Elliott has been a mainstay of pop culture since releasing her first album Supa Dupa Fly in 1997. Along the way, she’s carved out a unique niche in the worlds of hair, beauty and fashion, showing women – particularly women of colour – that you don’t need to be categorised in a certain way.
The make-up moments
Particularly in recent years, Elliott has started experimenting more with make-up. This isn’t anything low-key or under the radar; instead, she uses make-up like art, and her face as the canvas.
Elliott isn’t afraid of going all-in with colour, and you really believe she’s the kind of person to go to the supermarket with lilac eyeshadow and matching lipstick.
From the beginning of her career – even when she wasn’t going big on colour – Elliott focused on bold lashes. Her make-up artist Gloria Elias-Foeillet told Paper in 2015: “She is definitely known for her eyelashes… that is her element. We’ve done every kind of lash you can think of and more.”
Elias-Foeillet added: “Missy has years of experience being a perfectionist and a creative force and she has things exactly the way she wants them. There are no mistakes. I think this has created her look which is just always ‘supa fly’.”
The hair moments
Elliott has come a long way from the pixie cut she had when starting out. Elliott’s hairstyles have become a celebration of black women’s hair: as demonstrated with the Iconography artwork and how she uses her braids as skipping ropes in the video for Throw It Back.
Whether she’s wearing long waves down to her waist, an afro or different kinds of braids, Elliott’s hair has become a much more central part of her look over the years.
The nail moments
We’d just like to take a brief moment to shout out Elliott’s nails, which seem like they’re always OTT and on point. And yes, that is her sporting a jewel-encrusted manicure featuring a picture of Prince.
The fashion moments
Particularly in the worlds of hip hop and RnB, there’s a particular way that women are ‘supposed’ to look. Elliott bucked this trend – instead of dressing in a way people might perceive as sexy, she has always seemed to do whatever she wanted sartorially.
From the beginning of her career, Elliott was instantly recognisable in baggy tracksuits. But this didn’t mean she wasn’t pushing the boat out – she basically reinvented the tracksuit, experimenting with textures, colours and patterns – something she still does to great success today.
From the outset, it seems like Elliott has been having fun with fashion. For past VMAs she’s worn a floor length orange crocodile coat and matching trousers, a snakeskin and fur tracksuit and a green and yellow golfing hat, so we can’t wait to see what she pulls out the bag on Monday.
It’s particularly fitting that Elliott will be receiving the Video Vanguard Award. She’s responsible for some of the most visually stunning music videos of the last two decades, all of which come with some pretty major fashion moments. Think of the furry Kangol hats she wears in Work It, or the futuristic band leader look for We Run This.
Don’t even get us started on the black blown up bin bag outfit she wore in The Rain, which is one of her most enduring fashion legacies. She told Elle: “The outfit was a symbol of power. I loved the idea of feeling like a hip hop Michelin woman.”
This sums up Elliott’s groundbreaking approach to fashion. She has fun with it, while also meticulously planning her looks to be as powerful and unique as possible – making space for other women in hip hop to do the same.
© Press Association 2019