Women’s History Month: The Women Behind Hip-Hop Fashion

Hip-Hop can’t be properly celebrated without acknowledging the fashions that were birthed. Over the years, many female fashion designers have made significant contributions to hip-hop. All from designing clothing lines and creating iconic looks for some of the most influential artists. SOHH, Let’s take a look at the women that made a huge impact in hip-hop fashion.

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April Walker

April Walker is one of hip-hop’s most prominent female fashion designers, known as hip-hop’s first lady of fashion. She is the founder of Walker Wear

April is credited with helping to create the streetwear aesthetic that has become a cornerstone of hip-hop fashion.

She started designing clothes in the late 1980s, and Walker Wear quickly gained popularity within the hip-hop community. Artists like Tupac, Biggie Smalls, and LL Cool J donned the brand’s pieces in their music videos and on stage.

Misa Hylton

The Mount Vernon native is another notable stylist and fashion designer. Misa Hylton began styling and designing costumes for hip-hop artists in the 90s. 

She is known for creating iconic looks for various artists such as Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliott, Jodeci’s edgy bad boy flair, and Lil Kim. In fact, the iconic purple jumpsuit and pasty the original Queen Bee wore to the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards was created by Misa. 

Misa launched her first self-titled clothing line in 1998 and collaborated with brands such as Nike and MCM to create limited-edition collections that combine high fashion with streetwear.

Kimora Lee Simmons

The former supermodel is also the face behind the popular clothing brand Baby Phat. Along with her then-husband, Russell Simmons, Phat Fashions was at the forefront of streetwear in the 2000s. 

Kimora Lee Simmons’ vision for Baby Phat was to create a brand that celebrated femininity and empowered women. Baby Phat became one of the most successful and influential fashion brands of the 2000s, known for its bold, sexy, and glamorous aesthetic that embodied the spirit of hip-hop culture. 

She incorporated elements of streetwear and hip-hop culture into her designs while also infusing them with luxurious fabrics, bold prints, and attention-grabbing details.

June Ambrose

Ms. June is a fashion stylist and costume designer who has also made significant contributions to the world of hip-hop fashion. June Ambrose began her career in the early 1990s as a stylist for music videos and album covers, working with artists such as Missy Elliott, Puff Daddy, Mariah Carey, Jay-Z, and Mary J. Blige.

In 2012, she had her own show Styled By June where she worked to revamp the images and brands of celebrities. 

The fashion powerhouse has also worked as a costume designer for films and television shows, including The Wiz Live! and Empire. She has won multiple awards for her work, including the Costume Designers Guild Award for “Excellence in Contemporary Television.” 

June also worked with various brands such as GUCCI, Estee Lauder, Target, and Levi’s. Lastly, she is currently the creative director of women’s basketball for Puma.

Nija Battle

Nija Battle is a fashion stylist and costume designer who has worked with some of the biggest names in hip-hop music. She is known for her fur designs that were worn by celebrities such as Whitney Houston, Lil Kim, Kid Rock, and Puff Daddy. 

Nija has worked on a wide variety of projects, from music videos and album covers to live performances and photo shoots.

Sadly, Nija passed away in 2000 from a brain aneurysm while on a business trip.